It’s not rare for an irresponsible person to receive love.
Unlike the misunderstanding that most people have, the virtue of ‘taking responsibility’ doesn’t help that much when it comes to the topic of receiving love. There are even many occasions where that virtue is unable to carry out its role as a preservative that’s supposed to maintain the love which you had received once for a long period of time. Although I have never met anyone in my life whose sense of responsibility was as immense as my aunt’s, I never loved her. Even if the day that I did love her were to ever arrive, it most likely will not be because of that woman’s sense of responsibility. Ironically, it’ll be the complete opposite. It’ll most likely be because I’ll be unable to let her grow old as a small, lonely grandma by herself. In other words, because of my own sense of responsibility.
Be that as it may, would that be a happy love? It probably won’t be once it’s done. That love will be consumed. If it isn’t continuously filled, then it will one day be depleted. Tearing down and removing an inserted love is an expectation.
My expectations make me feel pain. It will kill me in time.
I can conclude that my prediction was wrong in largely two different ways.
First was the matter regarding the assailants. I have yet to solve that case even though several days have passed since that time. I was still lacking a couple of puzzle pieces. If I didn’t have them, then I should have just initiated my plan while in that lacking state, but I intended to watch for a bit longer.
The second matter was related to Sii’s actions. I had just returned from collecting the data from the hidden cameras only to discover Alshi seated on the mattress like a china doll.
I was the one who broke this silence.
“Hi. What brings you here?”
“Acting like you don’t know. I came here because, your Whitey called me.”
Alshi responded while not hiding the fact that she was feeling under the weather. Not only was she frowning, but it felt as if there were barbed wires wrapped around her tone. I sat down and looked at her from a spot that wasn’t close enough to make her raise her guard or a place that was far enough to make her scowl.
“Why’d she call you?”
“······Do you really not know?”
“Yeah. Tell me and I’ll listen.”
I politely gathered my hands on top of my lap and got into a posture that showed her that I would listen to her courteously. Alshi was quiet for a moment before dropping her tension.
“She said that she had something to say, to me regarding Ariya. To come, here the moment I was done with my work.”
So that’s why she’s here. This was my mistake. I underestimated Sii’s ability to take action.
But for her to come here just because she was told to. If she’s going to blatantly display her displeasure like earlier, then she shouldn’t have come here in the first place. She’s either docile or the keyword ‘Ariya’ had that much meaning to her.
“Can you guess why?”
“······.” She gave me a sidelong gaze. “I should, be asking you that.”
I avoided an immediate answer. Although it’s not like there wasn’t a docile side to her, she was most likely more concerned about her lover right now.
Once I lowered my head and apologized, Alshi groaned.
“······You don’t, have to particularly apologize, you know? It’s not, even your fault.”
“That’s generous of you.”
“You’re the one, who lacks too much pride, you know? You bow your head all the time. Always, suffering a loss.”
I acted as if I were ashamed.
“Sorry. As Ariya’s savior, I should probably be going around with more dignity.”
Alshi glanced at me. Whether it’s because couples tended to resemble one another or because they were a couple because they resembled one another, but her indifferent pupils were reminiscent of Ariya’s own gaze. Nevertheless, the light that was lingering in her eyes was much deeper than Ariya’s.
“······I should be the one, to apologize. I was being too rude, to the person who had saved my lover.”
Alshi bowed her head instead. I was a bit surprised by this adult-like response.
“No. You’re right. People must be talking about Ariya behind her back a lot nowadays, right? Since she’s been sticking close to me and Sii.”
“You’re the tag along and they say that she’s close to that Whitey. They’re really, idiots. For those girls, who only comforted Ariya when her thieving was revealed, to say those kinds of things just because of a reason like that.”
But she wasn’t that much of an adult.
“You calling Sii by that nickname is an action that puts more strength into their words.”
“······Do you intend, to lecture me?”
“Do you want to take it in as a lecture?”
Alshi didn’t nod. Her face didn’t become red in embarrassment either.
“Everyone can’t be happy.”
She started off saying that.
“I’m saying this while believing that you won’t, tell Her Excellency the Earl. Working here means that you’re, accompanied by that much stress as well. There is a need, for a target to take that stress out on. That’s why, I’m not saying that it’s reasonable. It’s just that, there are things that can’t be helped, and the stuff related to Sii is one of those things.”
I know that there’s no point in getting upset at this girl. That’s why I won’t get mad at her. However.
“You mustn’t justify it.”
“The stress from having to keep facing the unstable Silver Lion Earl while also living in the same castle. The sense of constraint that this castle gives. The pressure that comes from handling a hard communal life. The disorientating anxiety that comes from the fact that the Head Vassal, who’s also the one in charge of everything, has shut herself in her research room. All of those negative emotions, I understand them. However, those things don’t make the things that mustn’t be done into things that can be done.”
There are things in the world that truly must not be done.
“Therefore, thoughts like what you had said a moment ago, you mustn’t convince yourself that those thoughts are logical nor should you accept them as so. If you do, then you are not allowed to believe that you understand reality, and you are not allowed to consider yourself as an adult. That isn’t maturity, but rather, that’s simply cowardice.”
“······What do you, know?”
Alshi looked into my eyes.
“······It’s something, that everyone is doing.”
“By making a rank, below their own, they pour their stress down onto, it. Everyone feels as if everything works better by, doing so. But why are you saying that, we shouldn’t do this regardless of that?”
“My voice is able to reach you, isn’t it?”
I paused for a moment before continuing.
“Please call Sii by her name.”
Alshi didn’t respond and averted her gaze. That was enough. She won’t call Sii by that nickname anymore.
The door opened just in time and both Sii and Ariya entered the room.
“I’ve already said it several times before, but it’s fine. Receiving your apology is starting to become bothersome, so stop.”
“Mm······ but I’m really sorry······ I tripped on my feet but who would have thought that you would be in front of me and the stairs would be in front of you······ but if you think about it, everything would have been fine if you weren’t walking in front of me. In the first place, there’s a really high chance that I tripped on my feet because you were blocking my line of sight! You clump of muscles!”
The reason why Sii abruptly became bolder in the middle of her sentence was probably deeply related to the fact that she had sat down on my lap at that same exact moment. Instead of being pressured by that charisma, Ariya wordlessly approached and gave Sii a bear hug.
“Gyaaaaaaak! Help me, Yujin!”
I quietly handed Sii to Ariya. I had become accustomed to this over the past couple of days.
“······How incredibly natural.”
It was obvious that Alshi would mutter that bitterly. Ariya turned towards that Alshi.
“What brings you here, Alshi?”
It was a somewhat cold tone. Alshi didn’t respond affectionately either.
“I was called here by the girl who you’re hugging, right in front of your lover right now.”
“Sii, did you tell Alshi to come here?”
Ariya looked down at Sii and asked. Sii was barely able to push herself away from Ariya in order to speak.
“As I thought, you need to talk to each other!”
Ariya looked tired. She let go of Sii and turned towards Alshi.
Alshi closed one eye.
“Is something, the matter? Why is Sii, acting like that all of a sudden?”
“It’s because you’ve been sticking close to that sword-tooth.”
A tired voice. Ariya spoke in a tone that sounded as if she didn’t care anymore. Alshi was silent for a moment before tilting her head.
“How is that related, to Sii?”
“Ask her that yourself.”
“Sii. Why did you call me here and, how exactly is it related to you?”
Ariya had the tendency of speaking sharply as well, but Alshi’s words were so sharp that they made Ariya’s tone feel like wooden swords. Sii faltered, but she must have been able to recharge her courage by hiding behind me since she proceeded to speak boldly.
“We’re living together, so it’s obvious that I’d show at least that much concern! Ariya has been constantly looking dispirited, you know? I feel like I’ll get infected by her lethargy.”
The acuity that was prominent on Alshi’s face waned down. She looked at Ariya. Ariya shook her head marginally and Alshi placed her hand against her forehead.
“If you look back at what happened a second ago, then you two don’t seem that close, but let’s put that aside. Sii. This is an issue between, me and Ariya. It’ll only, be a hindrance if a third party tries to get involved.”
Alshi then glared at Ariya. Her eyes looked as if they were asking ‘Do I have to be the one to say this? Even though you live together with her in the same room?’ Ariya must have understood her gaze as she had flared up. However, Ariya wasn’t the one to open their mouth in order to refute Alshi’s implication. Sii spoke.
“Ariya said the same thing!”
Ariya paused and looked at Sii. Sii shouted confidently.
“But I’m already concerned. If it’s a situation between the two of you, then it would be correct to resolve it yourselves, but you shouldn’t cause harm to the people around you during that process, right? If you still want to say things like that anyway, then why don’t you just resolve it right here and now!? We’ll excuse ourselves!”
It’s great that you’re shouting confidently, but I’d like it if you didn’t put more strength into the arm that’s hugging me. If you consider the fact that she’s currently receiving the glares of both the martial artist type maids, then it’s not like I didn’t understand her, but I feel like my spine is going to break if she keeps this up.
However, regardless of my situation, Sii’s logic was right. If Alshi wanted to declare that it’s a problem solely between the two of them, then they shouldn’t have influenced the people around them during that process. Alshi’s declaration had already been broken the instant Sii had found out about it and requested for their situation to be mediated. Alshi and Ariya must have arrived at a similar conclusion as their faces appeared as if they were looking at Sii in a new light now.
“I apologize that, my idiot lover made you worry. But it’s a matter that’s difficult, to resolve right this instant.”
The strength in Sii’s hug became a bit weaker. In her position, it was probably because she had received an answer that was more polite than she had expected. Alshi continued.
“I can’t tell, you the reason yet, but I can promise you that, it won’t take too long. At the very latest, it’ll be over before the end of this month.”
Today was February 10th. If she intended to resolve it within this month, then in this world’s standard, it meant that there were 18 days left.
“M-Mmm~~ If that’s the case······.”
Sii uttered. Although her voice was trembling, the shaking was coming from her joy. As a result of her own idea and action, she was able to receive an oral promise. This was most likely truly an incredible occurrence for Sii who suffered from chronic lack of self-esteem.
Sii was prepared to accept it as that.
It seems Ariya wasn’t.
“Will it really be resolved by then?”
Ariya asked with a tired voice as she faced Alshi. Alshi’s gaze instantaneously became cold.
It wasn’t for long. Alshi let out a sigh.
“Yeah. So don’t, worry.”
“······I believe in you.”
Alshi stood up from her seat.
Alshi stood in front of Ariya. Similar to how I saw them when I first came out of the basement a month ago, the two girls had firm bodies. Ariya was taller, and as I thought, if you compared the atmospheres each of them they gave off, then Alshi was more modest and passive. However, it wasn’t difficult to figure out who had the true initiative in their relationship. The anxiety that could be felt emanating from Ariya couldn’t be felt from Alshi. Alshi spoke.
“I’ll be off now. ······Yujin.”
“I’m grateful, for the words you gave me earlier. Your words, are correct. But Yujin. In order for those correct words, to stay upright, there is a need for you to keep on protecting them. Every word that you had said from your own mouth earlier, can you protect them all?”
“Can you continue to protect them?”
Alshi calmed her breathing and left the room without saying anything more.
Sii didn’t hide her glee. She quickly hugged me from behind and rubbed her cheek against me.
“Fufu, how was it, Yujin? My charisma!”
I should give Sii her due.
“Miss Sii did very well.”
“Mm~~! Then hurry up and praise my charisma!”
Since the breath brushing against the back of my neck was rather hot, I turned around from my seat and patted her head. Ariya watched us with complicated eyes before speaking.
“Fair Grace. What were you talking about with Alshi?”
“Ah. I’m curious about that as well. What did you say to her?”
Sii asked while being hugged and looking up from my chest. I answered.
“I told her to stop calling Sii by the term Whitey.”
Eyes that were sparkling like a sun on the horizon were directed towards me. This was a bit bitter.
“There’s nothing to be moved about. It’s something obvious after all.”
“Mm······ but I’m still thankful. I want to be able to do that kind of natural act of consideration like Yujin does.”
If that’s the case, then how about starting by talking in this world’s language when Ariya’s here? I didn’t ask for her to do this. It wasn’t the right time yet. Of course, my reason wasn’t as simple as Sii’s own which was to just give a relative sense of alienation to Ariya and show off her relationship with me.
“It’s almost time to give my routine report to the Earl.”
The red glow in Sii’s eyes grew dark like twilight.
“······Really, can you not skip out on it just for today? I was at the height of being delighted······ No, I’m just saying that. I know. We have to go. We can’t forget our goal after all.”
My and Sii’s ultimate goal was to receive an apology from the Earl. We couldn’t tell Ariya about this yet. I couldn’t drag a girl who just wanted to repay her debt towards me into a confrontation with the Earl. Moreover, it was also because I wasn’t certain whether we could trust her that far or not yet. In that regard, talking in Korean was the perfect communication method in order for us to speak to one another in secret.
Even now, Ariya was silently waiting for our conversation to be over. I spoke.
“Sorry, it became a bit long, didn’t it?”
“That isn’t so, Fair Grace. Rather than that, the time······ will you be going today as well?”
“Yeah. I’ll be going.”
I stood up. Sii let go of the embrace as well and stood up after me. Ariya was waiting for us while holding the door open.
We walked towards the Silver Lion Earl’s office.
I finished giving the routine report with no trouble. The Silver Lion Earl grinned widely and stroked my head.
“Mm mm. Good. Very good.”
“All right. Show me the task for today.”
“Ah-ah. Don’t skip the procedures, Mr. Yujin. You have to receive your doting first. Stand still.”
I stood. The Silver Lion Earl got up from her seat and pounced on me. Nom, she bit. Her teeth dug into my nape. They were hard, even, and sharp. The sensation was tepid at first before it gradually became hot. It wasn’t until the temperature that was inside the Silver Lion Earl’s mouth and the temperature of my skin had become aligned did she remove her lips.
“I can’t say that you’re appetizing.”
Between the lip mark and the teeth marks, I wasn’t sure which one was making me feel itchy.
“Is it because you’re a boy? Or is it because you haven’t been managing your meals properly? It might possibly be because you weren’t cooked. Hmhmhm. What do you think the issue is, Mr. Yujin?”
I didn’t answer and merely kissed the end of her hand. The Silver Lion Earl stood with her legs crossed and grinned.
(TL note: This next part is a bit confusing. The Earl is going on about something, but it isn’t really clear what she’s exactly talking about, or rather, what the ‘livestock’ is referring to. Also, she’s talking in a rather crazy way, so pardon any weird grammar.)
“Well, if I’m to speak while borrowing someone’s personal experience, then would all three be correct? It’s about livestock and their eating, habits. Regarding a girl⎯⎯⎯in another word, a female. Female since it’s about livestock. Ah hah ha, in any case, if you raise them well, you know? They say their flesh becomes that much softer. Their smell becomes aromatic as well. Do you want to learn about it?”
The Silver Lion Earl’s white hand curved like a fish hook and hooked onto my lip.
“It’s about livestock, you know? And it’s about eating, habits. Eating habits. They’re raised while only being fed fruits. Nyamnyam. Nyamnyam. No grain, no meat, only fruits. Ah, they also crush and grind the fruits so they can be digested easily. The reason behind that is because they’re raised in a situation where their ability to exercise is limited. They put their arms and legs into a nail clipper, GIANT ver., and clip, clip! After that, with medicine⎯⎯⎯yeess, with the same medicine that Mr. Yujin had used, they heal the surface of the cuts. After that happens, they’re like a matryoshka, no, they become like a gingerbread person and are thus unable to move properly. That’s why the owners grind the fruits. Aren’t the owners brilliant for even caring about their livestock’s circumstances? Ah hah hah hah ha!”
While pulling on my lip, she bent her thumb and stuck it up my nose.
“That’s why it’s about livestock, you know? Like I said, it’s eating, habits, you know? Don’t misunderstand, okay? If they only eat fruits like that for about 6 weeks, then their meat becomes plump. Ah, of course, there are times when they refuse their meals. Because of an illness of the mind, they believe that they can become skinny. However, while they’re before the reality of hoses and funnels, that sort of mental defense mechanism is meaningless! Ah ha, can you imagine? Forcefully like this, a funnel is shoved into their mouths. They pour it in. Until they’re able to see their stomachs become visibly plump, gulp, gulp! I heard that when certain owners have a lot of stress piled up they even mix their own fecal matter into the food and feed it to them, hm. If you want good meat, then you shouldn’t do that, right? Cherish your food. You have to cherish your livestock as well, right?!”
“Like that, once they’ve become plump and their body odor has become flowery, they’re then butchered. That meat is then marinated with herbs and spices before being cooked on top of a heated pan. They say it’s delicious! Of course, meat that’s raised with that much affection would obviously taste amaaazing. Ah hah hah ha ha. So that’s why I want to ask you, Mr. Yujin.”
The Silver Lion Earl kissed my forehead before putting more strength into her thumb and pushing my nose.
“Can I have a small slice? A reeaally small piece. Just 1cm x 1cm. Okay? With the skin intact. Yes? Only slightly. As big as your finger nail. You won’t die, you know? Because you won’t die.”
I raised one arm.
I folded my sleeve up. Before the Silver Lion Earl could even pause, I ripped out a portion of my flesh from the inner part of my arm with my nails. Clench······! The instant I twisted and pulled, my sight became blurry for a moment before a piece of my flesh was ripped out. A pain that felt as if thousands of fire ants were rampaging about however they pleased. I disregarded it. Ignoring pain was what I was best at.
Blood dripped from the piece of flesh that was on top of my palm and also the area under my arm that it was torn from.
The Silver Lion Earl looked down at me. Her gaze was as cold as ice.
“You know I said that as a joke, don’t you?”
That’s right. However, depending on my response, she would have most likely obstinately forced me to at least shed some blood. That fact, I was aware of it, and the Silver Lion Earl must have realized by now that I was also aware of that fact. The Silver Lion Earl closed her eyes before opening them again. A long sigh. She spoke.
“I guess my joke was a bit excessive. But still, this······ damn it. Mikatni’s adopted daughter! What are you sitting around for?! Hurry up and clean this up!”
Sii, who had been standing while leaning against the wall, approached and wiped the underside of my arm. I wordlessly accepted the touch of her trembling hands. The Silver Lion Earl narrowed her eyes.
“Tsk. Has that arm not healed yet? It’s fine to stay in the sick room longer and freeload on just the food, you know?”
The fact that that wasn’t the reason why Sii’s hands were shaking, of course, the Silver Lion Earl knew, and Sii was also aware of the fact that the Earl knew. I quickly spoke before the sight of Sii clenching her teeth could enter the Silver Lion Earl’s line of sight.
“Yeah, but I can’t leave her by herself because of the assault.”
“Hum? Has that still not been resolved yet?”
“If it were, then wouldn’t you be the first person to be told about it?”
“That’s true, but⎯⎯⎯hm. What’s up with this? Ariya.”
Ariya, who had been standing next to Sii, raised her head.
“Yes, Your Excellency.”
“Go and tell the guard executives to come here.”
Ariya left the room while keeping her head bowed. While that happened, Sii continued to wipe off my blood.
Sii continued to clean the blood while repeatedly replacing the handkerchiefs with a tearful expression on her face. There’s no way that the blood would stop by just cleaning it. Eventually, Sii must have run out of handkerchiefs as she was now holding a blood-soaked handkerchief against my wound and nothing more. The Silver Lion Earl pulled back her shoulders and raised her hand as if she were going to use her summoning ability, but she soon shook her head and took something out of her skirt.
“Mikatni’s adopted daughter!”
The Silver Lion Earl tossed a healing medicine. After nearly shattering the bottle in the process of catching it and nearly breaking the neck of the vial while trying to uncork it, Sii applied that medicine on my arm. Her hands were still shaking so about 1/3 of the medicine ended up falling to the floor. The Silver Lion Earl, who had walked over to our side and was watching over us, gnashed her teeth audibly.
“Damn it! You suck at applying it. Give it to me.”
Although Sii had shrunk her shoulders back as if she were instinctively trying to refuse, that very action ended up making more medicine fall to the floor. After witnessing that, it seems she decided to just obey the Silver Lion Earl’s order. The Silver Lion Earl received the bottle and poured its content on top of her hand. While she did that, Sii grabbed onto my shoulder and wrist and firmly held them in a way that made the wound clearly visible.
The medicine applied by the Silver Lion Earl overlaid the wound that Sii was revealing.
The injury quickly healed. The Silver Lion Earl repeated the same remark unpleasantly.
“Bite off all Twelve Fingers.”
In Korean, that phrase meant something similar to ‘Fucking damn it’.
I bowed my head.
“Stop talking nonsense and clean the floor.”
The reason why I couldn’t follow that order was because Sii had knelt down and removed the blood by wiping it off with her sleeves. Instead of saying anything more, the Silver Lion Earl just clicked her tongue. Thankfully, we then heard knocking on the door.
Ariya and two people wearing uniforms entered the room.
One of the two people was a man. That’s right, a man⎯⎯⎯men existed in this world as well. He was shorter than me by a very slight amount. Although he appeared as if he were between 50 and 40 years old, if you consider the fact that he appeared like that even though he was properly wearing a brown uniform and also had a clean shave, then there was a high chance that he was older than that. His short-cut hair was gray, matching the color of his eyes. The cracks in his eyes, which the people of this world were destined to have, were jet black. Excluding those things, there was nothing else that was special about him. The impression he gave was that dim.
The other person was Roroa. Although she showed a delighted face the instant she saw me, her eyes soon became wide and her nostrils flared. She had gotten the smell of my blood.
The eyes of all three people who had just entered the room were directed towards Sii who was kneeling by my side and wiping the blood. Ariya immediately moved to help Sii, but the guards were unable to do so. The hesitating guards stretched their arms forward in the shape of six fingers and saluted.
“Hello, Your Excellency the Earl. I am the vice-captain of the guards of the Water Dragon City, Ryungste Bereji.”
“Hello, wan, Your Excellency the Earl. I am the assistant commissioner of the guards of the Water Dragon City, Roroa Ara Harte, wan.”
The Silver Lion Earl waved her hand and brushed their greetings aside.
“Yeah, you came well. I wanted to ask you a question regarding the assault case. Has there been any progress with the investigation?”
Ryungste blinked his eyes. He let out an ‘uh-‘ sound and turned towards Roroa. Roroa folded her ears down in an ashamed manner.
“Wan······ my apologies. Excluding the report that I gave Your Excellency previously, no new information has been uncovered, wan.”
While leaning her back against her desk, the Silver Lion Earl tapped her finger on her lips. Tap, and tap.
“It feels as if approximately 1 week has passed.”
“I feel like 1 week has passed.”
The Silver Lion Earl stood properly.
“Give me a summary of the situation. Unknown dog bone-like bastards entered this young lady’s castle. They wore masks, they wore maid uniforms, and they placed their hands on this young lady’s possession. And yet, are you telling me that you, the people in charge of the public order of the city and the security of this castle, were unable to obtain any new information despite having made a collective effort for over a week?”
“My apologies, Your Excellency.”
“I have nothing to say, wan, Your Excellency.”
The two guard executives bowed their heads. The Silver Lion Earl narrowed her eyes.
“How about Sophna?”
A disagreeable stillness. Roroa responded this time as well.
“A report has been given to her, wan, but it seems even Miss Sophna didn’t have anything particular to say yet······.”
“Is she hibernating?”
“That does not seem to be the case······ the meal and note left inside the basket were both gone. There was a response as well. Sir Yudia also visited Miss Sophna several times. However, as Your Excellency knows, this period is······.”
“Yeah, it’s probably because of the central source of water. But still, damn it, there were assailants in the castle and yet she doesn’t even come up from her room to take a look? That damned hag.”
“Wan, Miss Sophna most likely isn’t unconcerned, wan.” Roroa spoke cautiously. “I believe that she’s moving her information network in her own way. Is she not a mage? She most likely needs time to concentrate, wan.”
The Silver Lion Earl stared at Roroa.
“There’s no need for you to make excuses for her.”
“Wan······ my apologies, Your Excellency. I just······.”
“It’s fine. Put aside the hag who’s shut in her room and sucking on honey. Lucky for her, right now is the time where she can use the central water source as an excuse after all. However, even while disregarding that hag, one week. I said it earlier but it’s been a week. Are you telling me that you made absolutely no progress during that time? Why are you receiving a salary?”
If I leave her like this, then she’ll nag at them for a long time.
“Ang? What is it, Mr. Yujin?”
The Silver Lion Earl turned towards me while making it clear that she was in a bad mood.
Although I wanted to ask if she were a kid, considering what happened earlier, she really was a kid.
“The maids and I are watching. Those people probably have their own dignity.”
“Dignity? Diiiigniiity? If they’re going to be concerned about that, then they should fulfill their responsibilities. Dignity even though they aren’t able to carry out their duty? That’s as nonsensical as a bunny-pig doing a somersaaault.”
“Even so, you shouldn’t handle things like this. Weren’t you in the middle of carrying out the Silver Lion Earl 2.0 campaign?”
“I aaam doing something similar to that due to a certain Mr. Someone’s speech.”
“Which Her Excellency the Earl was it that was happy about receiving a tremendous ovation?”
“That may be the caaase, but, nono, put the jokes aside and be serious. Mr. Yujin, this is a severe problem, you know? I said it earlier, but pieces of trash roamed around my castle. For the ones who were assaulted to be Mr. Yujin and Mikatni’s adopted daughter, putting that aside⎯⎯⎯actually, that isn’t something that can be put aside either⎯⎯⎯I can be assaulted as well. Within my own castle! The fact that they weren’t able to prevent that from happening, weren’t able to find those pieces of trash, and weren’t able to obtain any new information, Mr. Yujin, why do I have to give these people a salary?”
Different from her harsh words, the ruler’s logic, which those words were taking shape as, was firm. I spoke as if I were trying to calm her down.
“If you’re able to make them work to a degree that befits the amount of salary they receive by chewing them out like that, then go ahead. But that’s not so, is it? If there’s a problem then examine it and solve it together.”
The Silver Lion Earl groaned. She scratched the back of her head a bunch of times before clearly scowling.
“Damn it, if you had obtained a fragment of life from one of them by either clawing at them or latching onto their heads, then this would have ended neatly.”
“Making the victim take responsibility is an easy thing to do, and if something is easy, then that normally means that it isn’t the answer.”
“NyesNyes, I understand already, Scholar Yujin.” She switched to speaking in this world’s language and continued. “Whatever, it’s fine. All right⎯⎯⎯let’s solve it. Ryungste, Roroa. Give me a report about your investigation progress.”
The two guard executives, who were making faces that looked as if they were inside a flea bath while the Earl and I were talking in Korean, quickly raised their heads.
“Ehem, ah, uh, Miss Roroa?”
“Yes, as I had reported before, we started off by gathering information in order to get a grasp of the situation. Wan, we then, on the basis of the information we had received, obtained the keynotes for the investigation, wan. After that, we immediately carried out the investigation, but we were unable to obtain anything concrete, wan.”
“Then that means your keynotes were wrong. Or that means your investigation method itself was wrong. Have you ever thought about carrying out the investigation with Yujin?”
The Silver Lion Earl asked. This time as well, Ryungste merely cleared his throat and kept blinking his eyes, but Roroa answered quickly.
“We did not, wan.”
That fast response seemed to have harmed the Silver Lion Earl’s mood.
“······Investigating is a task that’s meant for professionals, wan. This isn’t a problem of intelligence, but rather, it’s something more fundamental than that. It’s a problem on whether that individual can be trusted or not, wan.”
It was small, but Sii clearly shrunk her shoulders back. Considering her field of vision, the Silver Lion Earl shouldn’t have been able to see that, but she folded her arms.
“I trust him though. I’m pretty sure that, as the individual who had received the twelfth chalice from His Majesty, this young lady had bestowed upon Yujin the title of squire.”
“Your Excellency, among the horses that are being raised in the Kingdom of the Twelve Earthly Branches, there is a horse that has received the title of marquis, wan. However, that doesn’t mean the horse is treated like a noble, does it, wan?”
It seems Ryungste must have felt as if worms were squirming through his veins. Roroa was not being pushed back even while talking with the lord, so it was only fair that the immediate superior, who was in the same room as that subordinate, would feel like that. However, it appears the lunatic magic-casting lord had become cool-headed in reverse.
“Comparisons end up being risky on many occasions, but that doesn’t seem to be the case when the real thing is the one to give that comparison. Isn’t that so, Miss ‘Dog Knight of Justice(正義犬, Kuros’ rixia)’?”
Roroa twitched. While keeping her arms folded, the Silver Lion Earl spoke sarcastically.
“That’s right, have you been staying in touch with that sponsor of yours? I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out that you two were exchanging erotic novels, but I’d like it if you avoided that. The postal service wasn’t made for that purpose after all.”
“······My loyalty is towards Your Excellency, wan.”
“It’s quite peculiar when the fellow who had received both their title and peerage from another person is the one to say that.”
“I······ wan, the Orange Hawk Prince had proposed to Your Excellency, so······.”
“That proposal, this young lady has never accepted it.”
“Even if I were to have accepted. The Orange Hawk Prince is not this young lady. This city is this young lady’s city, Dog Knight of Justice. Have you forgotten who it’s thanks to that you’re able to wear that uniform despite being a Saber-Fang?”
“······ I have not forgotten, wan.”
“If you didn’t forget, then⎯⎯⎯.”
“The fact that I’m able to wear this uniform,” Roroa spoke while sticking her chest out. “is thanks to Ahyeon, wan.”
A stillness that felt as if death itself had been engulfed flowed through the room.
The Silver Lion Earl continued.
“I can tear you apart right this instant.”
The Silver Lion Earl declared⎯⎯⎯.
“I can tear off that ear, rip out your eye, and tie that body, that’s not even 1 meter tall, onto a pulley and stretch you out until you’re as tall as your unsheathed state. I can make it so that your internal organs and bones burst out like the cotton inside of a teddy bear as your small limbs are ripped off.”
A voice that melted through the skin like hydrochloric acid and seeped into the bones.
“Can you tell me a reason why this young lady shouldn’t?”
Roroa was gazing at the Earl as if she were pleading.
“Your Excellency, I too was born in this city and I cherish this city as well, wan. My sincere loyalty is towards Your Excellency.”
“How splendid. Although I don’t think that’s an answer to my question.”
“Towards that sincere and loyal military personnel······ that guard, there is no way that Your Excellency the Earl would execute them without reason, wan. ······Because Your Excellency, is fair, wan.”
The Silver Lion Earl clenched her fists and opened them.
“Never say that person’s name while you’re before me ever again.”
Roroa gazed at the Earl with sad eyes. The Silver Lion Earl continued.
“Let’s go back to the previous topic. How many people have you assigned to this task?”
“······Five people were assigned, wan.”
The Silver Lion Earl shut her mouth and went silent for a moment. Shortly after, she looked up towards the ceiling.
“That’s 1% of the guards. Pieces of trash went in and out of the lord’s castle and yet you’ve assigned only that many people? Loyal and sincere military personnel, did you not call yourself a guard? What do you think about this, vice-captain, assistant commissioner, Dog Knight of Justice?”
“Uh······ I, I entrusted this······ case to Miss Roroa, while······ trusting her completely······.”
Ryungste stuttered. Roroa made a strained face.
“Your Excellency, we absolutely did not treat Your Excellency the Earl’s castle with negligence, wan. It’s regulation. Important matters⎯⎯⎯there are more important matters, wan. Doesn’t Your Excellency know······?”
“There are more important matters? Ah ha, are you saying that there’s something more important than the fact that an intruder had entered the lord’s castle, Dog Knight of Justice?”
“Yes, it’s the water, wan!”
The Silver Lion Earl paused. Roroa made a pleading expression once more.
“Your Excellency is aware, right?! The flow from the central water source······ although it’s something that always happens around this time······ disputes occur on a daily basis⎯⎯⎯previously there were even corpses that had fallen into the waterway, wan. Adding to that, there’s the preparation for the arena······Your Excellency should be aware that during this time, the number of guests increases by two to four times the average amount, wan. Just two days ago, a gang of adventurers, who were said to have come from the Cat Earl’s territory, waved their swords around in the heart of the city and caused a scene, wan······ the fact that more of our manpower will be temporarily transferred······ Your Excellency.”
Roroa was nearly in tears. Her body which was small like a dog also gave off that much weight in her appeal as well.
“There are guards who are stationed at this castle at all times, wan. The Head Vassal Miss Sophna, Miss Zia, and of course, Your Excellency the Earl reside in this castle as well, wan. However, we do not go outside of this castle, to the city. As they are our good citizens, we do not have a remarkable public order which lets our people and our guests feel at ease, wan. Within this state, in order to cherish this city and the citizens, in order to do what I can do as an executive of the guards, in order to decide where more troops will be placed······.”
Roroa was unable to speak further. The line of sight of everyone in the room was directed towards the girl who had shut her mouth and was folding her ears. Ariya was the only one with a cold gaze.
The Silver Lion Earl spoke.
“So, in other words, instead of flattering this young lady, you decided to do what you could as an executive of the guards.”
“······I believed that Your Excellency the Earl would have wanted the same······.”
Roroa flinched. The Silver Lion Earl spoke coldly.
“All right. Let’s say that your words are correct. Nevertheless, doesn’t that mean that as a result of assigning five people, the gain was zero? A different result may have occurred if you were to have assigned ten or twenty people. Or you could have just assigned only one person and sent the other four off to do something else! In the end, because you had decided to choose five people, a number which isn’t even here or there, it became nothing more than a waste. Has this young lady said anything wrong?”
“I have nothing to say······.”
“Then stay quiet! Why are you acting all boastful and trying to talk back!?”
Roroa sunk her head. I spoke up.
The Silver Lion Earl turned towards me with eyes filled with annoyance.
“YessYess. After stomping on an outspoken subordinate with my authority, I feel veryveryveryvery pleased. Is that fine, Mr. Yujin? Or do you want me to do the same thing to you too?”
I turned towards Roroa. Although the superior was Ryungste, it was evident who did the actual work.
“For starters, the matter regarding the dispatching of the troops, the Silver Lion Earl may have said that, but I believe that you did well. I did feel like there were fewer incidents than what I had originally expected while I was assisting the Silver Lion Earl with her work here in the office.”
Roroa looked up at me hesitantly. I ignored the displeased grunt from the Silver Lion Earl behind me and adjusted my glasses.
“And the fact that you didn’t ask me for help······ in that regard, I understand your reasoning. However, not so much when you said that you couldn’t trust someone without prior judgment. Not because the Silver Lion Earl trusts me and not because the Earl had bestowed upon me the title of squire. Look at me with your eyes.”
“I’ll help you. Let’s investigate together.”
Roroa nodded. I returned her nod.
“In any case, that’s fine. Did you roughly investigate everything? Ariya had kicked one of the two people in the face. Did no one have an injury on their face?”
“Wan. Injuries can be healed with medicine or magic, wan. That’s why I had excluded that from the start.”
Well, even I, who had ripped out a piece of his own flesh earlier, was perfectly healed now. I guess this was something that’s inconvenient when in a world with magic.
“How about a background check on the people within the castle?”
“Of course, I went through those, but, wan. Since we were certain within the line which we could confirm······.”
“Within the line which you could confirm?”
Roroa glanced at the Silver Lion Earl. The Silver Lion Earl let out a sigh.
“There was a time when I had fired a lot of the people who were working in this castle all at once.”
I feel like I’ve heard about that from Sii before. If I were to give this response, then I’ll probably receive an ‘Ah, then I guess you can hear the rest from Mikatni’s adopted daughter’ in reply.
Regardless, even if I were to receive that response.
“I feel like I’ve heard about that from Sii before.”
“Ah, then I guess you can hear the rest from Mikatni’s adopted daughter.”
As I had predicted, the Silver Lion Earl gave that retort. However, she soon opened her eyes wide.
Sii had gotten down to her knees and was bowing her head.
If she tried to avoid it, then the issue will continue to remain in that spot. The thing which must be made clear will change. I had informed Sii about this fact and if this were to eventually ever happen in the future, then I told her to actively make an appeal for her own existence and lower her head. Although the process of persuading her wasn’t easy, Sii was a good girl.
Furthermore, since the Silver Lion Earl⎯⎯⎯was the Silver Lion Earl as well.
The Silver Lion Earl, who was staring at my blood smeared on Sii’s sleeves, pressed her hand against her forehead.
“······Damn it. I hired a lot of orphans. I also bought some slaves. Publicly, I had hired them in order to relieve the poor, but my real reason was because I wanted to pick them out myself. You know, it’s like buying fruits from the fruits and vegetable section of a supermarket. Since it’s an apple that you chose yourself, it feels safe. It’s that sort of feeling, you know? Cases like Mikatni’s adopted daughter is an exception among exceptions.”
Is she using a supermarket as a comparison? Pass. The fact that they were in the fruits and vegetable section must mean that no matter how many there were, they went through the hands of the supermarket people at least once. Pass. People aren’t apples. Pass. Everyone should know, so she should be regretting it now.
“So you’re saying that there are maids who you have no information on in regard to what they were doing prior to working here?”
“YesYesYes. At that time, this young lady was severely experiencing some la petite mort, chuunibyou symptoms, and a blackening phase. It’s refreshing to finally be able to get this off of my chest. Do you have any more questions? Ask away. I’ll answer them all while I’m at it.”
“If that’s the case, then Earl, it’s about your way of speech in this world’s lang⎯⎯⎯.”
“I’ll kill you.”
“I’ll kill you, Mr. Yujin. I’m saying, that I’ll reaaaaally kill you. If you understand, then you mustn’t flap your lips about this topic even slightly, okay? Do you understand?”
The retorting Silver Lion Earl’s face was red, something which rarely ever happened.
As I thought, I shouldn’t have made a rebuttal. But for me to not make a rebuttal······ she’s the one who told me to ask anything······.
No. Like I said, this wasn’t the time for this.
I turned towards Roroa.
“So you’re currently at a stalemate?”
“······Yes, that is correct.”
“Then that means nothing will come up even if you were given more time. The same would also apply if more personnel were assigned to this case.”
Ryungste, who was just listening to us the entire time, cleared his throat.
“Ehem! Her Excellency the Earl’s······ Sir Otherworlder. I feel as if that conclusion is a bit hasty. My guards are competent. They are talented enough for me to believe in all of them after all. Uh, if you give us more time, then.”
Although he was probably silent until now because he couldn’t find an opportunity to speak, it was needless to say that this timing and place were absolutely the worst for him right now. The Silver Lion Earl raised one eye.
“Oho. How much additional time do you require?”
“1 week? 10 days? Would that much be enough? Would you then be able to offer me bullshit that has a little more value than the nonsense that you had offered me today?”
“Y-Your Excellency. Investigations are, uh, water can sometimes be sluiced out of a paddy all at once, but if that water isn’t sluiced, then, it will stay unsluiced, since it’s something like that, I believe that with my professional opinion.”
Sweat was covering Ryungste’s wrinkled forehead. Although it seemed to be referred to as a synonym for Hell nowadays, as a person who was born from a country that was once called the country of courteous people in the East, Korea, this was an elder abuse that I couldn’t turn a blind eye towards.
“Earl, that’s enough.” I cast a side-glance at the Silver Lion Earl who then clicked her tongue before I shifted to speaking in this world’s language and continued. “There’s a chance that a sudden turning point will come our way. However, that’s literally something that has to come our way. An example would be another new assault occurring.”
“Wow. A new assault, is it? That’s an occurrence that this young lady could never hope for. Due to the fact that 4 years have passed, I feel like the cooldown on my mass firing ability has ended. If something like that happens one more time, then starting from the absolutely useless heads of the executives of the guards⎯⎯⎯.”
“Earl, that’s enough.” I cast a side-glance at the Silver Lion Earl who then clicked her tongue before I shifted to speaking in this world’s language and continued. “An additional variable is required. Instead of waiting, we’ll be the ones to inject a variable. Since the investigation done by the guards wasn’t enough, we’ll use something outside of that. Although the magical investigation that that person called Sophna was assumed to be doing would be a good example, since it’s uncertain whether they’re actually doing it or not and since no promises were made, Earl.”
“What happens if you simplify the assault that happened on me and Sii?”
“They dared to place their dirty feet in this young lady’s castle and carelessly extended their hands towards this young lady’s possession and⎯⎯⎯.”
“If you simplify it more?”
“A mysterious group of muggers. Why does this matter?”
“You,” I started to speak in Korean. “I’m referring to how you have a connection with the alliance of those very groups of muggers.”
The Silver Lion Earl furrowed her brow. She soon opened her eyes wide.
While watching the comprehension spread across her face, I carried on.
“A snake would know best about the path of a snake. It’s a scene that often occurs in those crime-investigation type shows and novels, isn’t it?”
A broad smile appeared on the Silver Lion Earl’s lips. She abruptly pulled me into a hug and pounded her head against my shoulder as if she were headbutting me.
“Ah hah ha, Mr. Yujin! Mr. Yujin! You adorable little thing! You’re like a bag of tricks!”
“Earl, everyone’s watching.”
“Aang? So what? Let them waatch, I’m busy hugging you a bit! Ah hah ha, that’s right! The Black Dragon Street! We’ll be able to get new information if we ask the Black Dragon Street!”
“Yeah, send Zia. She seems busy, but she can spare some time, can’t she? I came out of the basement as well and roughly learned how to speak in this world’s language so I could go together······.”
“No! There’s a simpler method.” While going through the motions of digging through the pocket of her skirt, the Silver Lion Earl switched to speaking in this world’s language. “Everyone, especially you, Dog Knight of Justice. Unsheathed state. Well, if that isn’t enough, then I’ll call for Zia as well so don’t worry.”
The item that the Silver Lion Earl pulled out of her pocket was a small ring. It was made out of a material that was similar to silver and there was a goat-like insignia engraved on the inner side of the ring.
At the same moment as when the Silver Lion Earl’s nail on the pinky of her right hand was dyed black, a single man appeared in the room.
A man who had grown a beard in the shape of a line that stretched from the bottom of his lip to his chin. He was approximately in his thirties. The hair that he had tied firmly behind the back of his head was a ponytail that reached all the way down to his knees. He had eyes that were yellow like the moon. The cracks in his pupils were gray. Although his overall appearance was tidy, his attire that was made from leather looked as if it belonged to that of an outlaw and his eyes with raised corners were that of a thief.
With her hands on her hips, the Silver Lion Earl spoke.
“Welcome, Mr. Borg Edentras.”
I had heard that name before.
The alliance of pimps and criminals that committed all sorts of illegal activities, thievery, and muggings. One of the 12 factions of the world, ‘Black Dragon Street’. The branch manager of the City of Confinement, Borg Edentras hesitantly took a step back.
Everyone in the room instinctively entered a battle stance. Especially Roroa, who had entered her ‘unsheathed state’⎯⎯⎯a transformation unique to the Saber-Fangs, as the Silver Lion Earl had ordered. She was in a monster-like state that was completely different from her previous form as a small girl.
“Your Excellency! What is this!?”
With a husky voice that suited her transformed state, Roroa growled. The Silver Lion Earl made a peace sign with her fingers.
“What do you mean what is this? I summoned Mr. Borg.”
That response wasn’t able to relieve Roroa’s anxiety. Honestly, that was the same for me as well. The scene of the lord of a city making an exchange with the top honcho of the group of delinquents that live in that same city, was it fine to show this to other people? It may be fine for Sii, Ariya, and myself, but even the guards? The Silver Lion Earl probably didn’t do this without any prior thought······.
Around the time when I looked at the Earl with doubtful eyes, it seemed Borg had grasped the situation. Of course, if he weren’t able to do something like that, then it would have been impossible for him to stand in that position. With movements that felt more similar to that of a snake than it did a scorpion, he examined the people who were gathered here in the office and spoke towards the Silver Lion Earl.
“Why have I been summoned?”
“Those are quite strange words. This young lady is the lord of this Water Dragon City. For the time being, Mr. Borg, you are living in this city. Is there a problem if this young lady, the lord, were to summon you?”
“If you need me, then you could have just called me while going through the proper procedures!”
“It seems you must have forgotten that I hate wasting time. Putting opinions aside, let’s get to the main point.”
“Opinions? This is an important⎯⎯⎯.”
“Put aside your side talk.” The Silver Lion Earl tilted her head. “Let’s get to the main point.”
Borg wavered. Similar to how I had made a guess and gave Zia a piece of advice according to that guess a while back, he was weak towards the people whom he considered to be stronger than himself. Although he was gnashing his teeth, that was just a struggle that came from his impatience.
“······What do you mean by the main point?”
“Mr. Borg, you didn’t keep your promise.”
“Promise? What promise?”
“Are you going to make me say it myself?”
The Silver Lion Earl’s voice was low. Borg looked around the room once more before holding his breath.
“Uh, if it’s about the previous incident, then I recall that I had handled it properly······.”
“You’re aware that I’m not referring to that, are you not?”
Sweat started to cover Borg’s forehead.
“Uh, Lord. Please understand. I am not an omnipotent man. I am merely······.”
“You’re merely a branch manager of the Black Dragon Street, right? However, thanks to that, there should be things that you are capable of doing.” The Silver Lion Earl grinned while showing her teeth. “Like regulating the intruders who dared to cause a ruckus while inside of this young lady’s castle!”
Borg froze completely.
“Mask-wearing pieces of trash ran amuck. Several of my employees who work in this castle were nearly injured.”
Borg looked around the room for the third time. He spoke with a doubtful expression.
“Mm, I’m asking just in case, but······ where is the Azure Rose Knight right now?”
“Zia? She’s most likely playing with her teacher at the arena right now. She probably has the misconception that she’s doing her job by playing around like that. That’s something which Zia has always done. But why are you asking this young lady this? This young lady thought that your information network⎯⎯⎯in other words, this young lady thought that the information network of the Black Dragon Street was better than this.”
Realization spread across Borg’s face and washed away his fear.
Since I had been watching him carefully, I had a rough grasp of what was going through his mind the moment he was summoned and to this very moment. He was summoned by the Silver Lion Earl but Zia was nowhere in sight. He must have thought that Zia’s previous acts of betrayal were revealed, so after she was purged, he had been dragged here in order to be tortured next. However, he had just now realized that that was a misunderstanding. If I were to say it in this world’s terminology, then it was a 10 out of 12 chance that this was the case. As expected, Borg stopped sweating and spoke.
“Mm, well. I need to narrow my focus somewhat and concentrate······ So pieces of trash wearing masks, was it?”
“That is correct. Mr. Yujin⎯⎯⎯describe the mask to him.”
“No need. As Your Lordship has said, the information network of the Black Dragon Street is outstanding. Narrow my focus and concentrate. As I have said. I already have a grasp on the assault incident that had occurred within the castle.”
Since he had regained his composure, he was behaving in a swaying attitude. The Silver Lion Earl made it clear that she didn’t like that attitude of his.
“So you’re boldly blabbering that you had planted spies in this castle.”
“Mm, I am aware that Your Lordship wishes to make an area clear of rogues. I am also aware of your obsession towards arms.” Borg fixed his behavior and glanced at Ariya and Sii. “However, that is impossible. ‘Anyone can be a Black Dragon, and the Black Dragon is everyone.’ Your Lordship is aware of this phrase, right?”
“Well, whatever. Regardless of that shabby slogan, even this young lady doesn’t have enough leisure to take her time to do something that’s impossible. Returning back to the promise that I had first mentioned, this young lady clearly made a declaration to you in the past. Do not excessively run amuck, manage your people with certainty, do not allow other pieces of trash to take root here, and by doing these things, this young lady had promised that her guards⎯⎯⎯including these two executives here⎯⎯⎯will tacitly allow the existence of your peerless thieves, assassins, and other pieces of trash like yourself. Do you remember?”
Borg’s expression went rigid.
It was a stiffness that stuck out so much that it made one automatically question it. If his slight change of behavior and expression earlier could only be noticed by me, then this just now was something that was large enough to be noticed by anyone. Ryungste, Roroa, Sii, Ariya, and even the Silver Lion Earl, they had all noticed the unrest that had appeared on Borg’s face and were gazing at him quizzically.
“It’s been a long time since I last heard that.”
The Silver Lion Earl’s expression went rigid this time.
As expected, this was a bit too large to miss.
A short silence.
The Silver Lion Earl turned her gaze away.
“······Regardless of how much time has passed, the promise is still effective. As I had promised, this young lady did not mess with your group even after I had become the lord.”
“That’s a bit different from what I remember. Riol Naricpitor was once a member of the Black Dragon Street.”
“That goes under the category of having excessively run amuck.”
“That, I can’t deny.”
“Yes. If you exclude those exceptions, then this young lady has done her utmost to keep that promise. However, it seems that you didn’t intend to keep that promise from the very beginning.”
“That is not so.” Borg cleared his throat and brushed his beard that had been grown out into a single line. “I had already done an investigation on those fellows. They are called Ex’ parte(Translating······ Sky Eaters?).”
“What a grandiose name.”
“Like how these sorts of groups always are, the things they do are pathetic. They are an organization that specializes in ‘covert assaults’.”
“Covert assaults? Not assassinations?”
“They say the organization doesn’t take lives. Instead, they’re an organization that does everything outside of that which can be considered as harmful. For example, they castrated the young master of a certain noble household, tore the face off of a certain noblewoman, and made the esteemed daughter of a certain noble become addicted to drugs⎯⎯⎯an organization that specializes in ‘leaving scars’. It seems they despise nobles a fair amount.”
“Ah ha, I can understand their name, then.”
“They aren’t a part of the Black Dragon Street. They’re an up-and-coming organization. Recently, it seems they’ve been establishing their influence in the palatinates of the Snake, Cat, and Pig.”
“Hm. I don’t understand why those fellows, who seemed to be having so much fun in the frontier, would set foot here.”
“This place is a frontier, too. Every palatinate is.”
“Mm, Mr. Borg. That isn’t important, Mr. Borg. So, do you know where they are?”
Borg opened both of his hands.
“From this point forth, I’ll require an information fee.”
“Should I remind you about the promise?”
“Honestly, I only told Your Lordship this much for free because of that very promise. It’s highly debatable whether I’d have done so or not if that weren’t the case.”
Borg spoke as if he were grumbling. The Silver Lion Earl, who was staring at him for a while, turned to look at me.
I⎯⎯⎯this time⎯⎯⎯took a step forward.
“If they don’t belong to the Black Dragon Street, then doesn’t that mean you’ll have to dispute over your business areas?”
Borg examined me meticulously.
“Hm······ you’re that.”
If he was capable enough to obtain information about the assault, then he would obviously have information about me as well. The Earl probably didn’t particularly try to hide me either.
Right when I was about to nod, Borg continued to speak.
“The masochistic otherworlder.”
I shook my head.
“What are you saying no to?”
“I’m not a masochist, but I am indeed an otherworlder.”
“Hm, there’s something that you should know, masochist, but I see a lot of masochists in my line of work. In other words, that means I can recognize a masochist the moment I see them. So when I look at you, you being a masochist is right.”
“That isn’t so. Let’s return back to the main topic.”
“Well, what you said is right. My promise with Her Lordship······ well, I have to keep that as well, but more than that, it’s true that even the Black Dragon Street can’t forgive that sort of indecent organization. The phrase ‘Anyone can be a Black Dragon, and a Black Dragon is everyone’ also means that they shouldn’t have any other choice than the Black Dragon. However, mate, be that as it may, if you’re trying to say something like ‘Since it’s something you enjoy and you’re going to do it anyway, then that must mean you don’t need money’ then you better be careful. Especially if you’re in front of a member of the Black Dragon Street. For what purpose do you think we decided to be a part of the Black Dragon in the first place?”
A small salary for working passionately creates thieves. This world was no different either, it seems.
I turned towards the Silver Lion Earl and shrugged. The Earl spoke.
“Are you finished?”
“It was such a sound argument that I can’t refute anything.”
“Are you joking, Mr. Yujin? Whenever I say anything, you’d do all sorts of things like bite as if you were a dog and tear off your own flesh, but you’re telling me that you’ll easily accept that thief’s nonsense? This is something that’ll require punishm⎯⎯⎯.”
“Now that I think about it, Earl, didn’t you say that you’ll give me a salary? It’s been nearly a month and a half since I got⎯⎯⎯.”
“Mr. Borg. How much do you want?”
“If we go according to the average fee of the Black Dragon Street, then 5000 vita per question······ No, wait. Since I, the branch manager, had come here personally, I’ll have to receive more. 10000 vita.”
“Since the lord was the one to receive you, let’s exclude that. 3000.”
“Let’s just stick to 5000. Cash.”
“I’ll give it to you by check. If this young lady thinks about it, this is something that’s fine to use a check on.”
“But cash is more convenient······.”
Borg muttered to himself and sat down. It felt as if I were looking at an owner of a restaurant who had started to worry about the additional charge that was going to go to the credit card company the moment a get-together customer told the owner that their group was going to pay for their meal with their business credit card······rather than it feeling like it did, the thing that had just occurred was probably exactly that.
The Silver Lion Earl looked at me once more.
“5000 vita per question. Ask well.”
“How much is 5000 vita?”
When I said that I had a feel for this world’s economy, I actually meant the price of a single well-made sword. It was apparently a price that I could afford with 1 month worth of my pay as a squire. Regardless, the Silver Lion Earl obviously had her own standards.
“Huu~? Why haven’t you gotten a hold of how pricing works in this world while you’ve been here? It’s about the price of a single pair of my shoes.”
“But you don’t wear shoes.”
“I wear it very rarely, is that a problem?”
Later on, I’m going to have to ask her about her sense of economy. I turned back towards Borg. Borg, who had been watching the Earl and I converse with one another with interest in his eyes, straightened his posture.
Wait. Think about it for a bit. Instead of repeating the same words like I’d normally do, I had to say this all in a single complex sentence.
“Tell us where those so-called Sky Eaters, the specific group of people who had entered this castle, assaulted both Sii and I, and were fought off by Ariya, are currently located in this Water Dragon City.”
Borg frowned. If I were to ask something along the lines of ‘Where are they?’, then I’d probably get ‘I’m not sure who they’re supposed to be, but if it’s those guys, then they’re probably over there’ in response. If I just said ‘Sky Eaters’, then a response like ‘I said it before, but you’ll probably be able to find them in places like the palatinates of the Snake, Cat, or the Pig’, would probably be returned to me. Although I doubt he’d actually try to give only these sorts of responses and leave after having just taken the money, it was apparent that the fact I gave him such a precise question had ruined his mood.
“I am aware that around two weeks ago, two people had entered this city. Since they are still a new organization, it can’t be helped that their movements stick out. However, after that, they had hidden their whereabouts. After hearing about the attack that happened within the castle, I started my investigation once more but I wasn’t able to get a hold of their precise location yet. I’ll contact you the moment I find out.”
“Then I can give you the money at that time.”
“Your Excellency, have you heard of initial fees?”
“‘The sweat that flows during the process of labor is the pay for the labor of sublimity.’ Rixco Chidorea.”
“People like that are the ones who made the Black Dragon Street.”
I nodded to her from the side to show her that I agreed with him.
“Next time, please do not call me here like this. Whether Your Lordship visits me yourself, sends an envoy, or sends an invitation, are there not many other methods to bring me here?”
Borg complained. After the Silver Lion Earl had canceled his summon and sent him back, she turned to glance at the people who were left in the room.
“Everyone. Bury the conversation that occurred just now and anything about the individual who was here deep in your chests and do not disclose it to anyone. Especially you, Miss Dog Knight of Justice. Do not flap your mouth towards that Orange Hawk Prince. Ryungste, you as well. Do not disclose this information to even that granddaughter of yours who you adore so much. Do you understand?”
“Yes, I will keep my lips sealed, Your Excellency.”
“I shall bear it in mind, wan, Your Excellency.”
The two stood at attention as they responded. The Silver Lion Earl nodded and gazed at Sii, Ariya, and myself once before shrugging.
“I shouldn’t have a particular need to also say this to Miss Ariya or Mr. Yujin. Now then, let’s get to the point⎯⎯⎯.”
“M-Me too······.” Sii strenuously opened her mouth. “I, won’t tell anyone as well, Your Excellency.”
The Silver Lion Earl looked at Sii while raising her brow. Sii endured that gaze with an expression that appeared as if her heart were being grasped. The Silver Lion Earl contemplated on whether she should ignore her or give her a response before deciding to choose the latter.
“In the first place, do you even have anyone to talk to, Mikatni’s adopted daughter?”
Although it was a Silver Lion Earl-like response, she soon raised her brow again. Sii had giggled with a perseverance that was not Sii-like.
“Ehehe······ Mm~~ Your Excellency, is right about that.”
And then the Silver Lion Earl⎯⎯⎯was once more, the Silver Lion Earl.
“······Do as you wish. In any case, back to the point. Ryungste, Roroa. Continue the investigation. Use more manpower as well. No, Miss Dog Knight of Justice. I know what you’re trying to say. I’m giving you this order while aware of that. Although I may have said it a bit harshly earlier, in summary of what you wanted to say, in the end, you wanted to put more effort into protecting more of the citizens, right? Similar to that of a certain sect within the religious body of Gainu Warmon, the God of Equality, which you are affiliated to. However, this city is not a free city. There may be community councils, but there are no city councils, This young lady rules this city, and there is that much weight on this young lady’s shoulders as well. That center must not tremble. That’s the rule of a lord’s city. Any group that believes that they’ll be safe even if they go against those regulations are destined to fall. Moreover, the chaos that occurs during the process of that fall is destined to envelop those very citizens who you wished to cherish. Bear this fact in mind, understood?”
“······Understood, Your Excellency, wan.”
“Good. Next, Mr. Yujin.”
“Help out the guards.”
TL note: Thanks for reading. I kept telling myself that the chapters will be shorter after each volume, but this volume is just slapping me in the face. I think it’ll be short but it ends up going over 12k words. It’s such a fun time.
In any case, I’m really stressed right now. It might be because of how hot the weather has become lately, but I’ve been getting headaches more frequently now. People at work are making me do irrational things because they’re too lazy to do it themselves. It’s great.
Well, anyway, I really want to finish up translating this volume so I can take another nice break. I also want to wrap it up so I can start translating Million Dollar Bill if possible. I still didn’t get permission yet, but I’ll get through it soon. It’d be a nice change of pace… Actually, I’m worried that when DD volume 5 comes out, I’d have completely forgotten how I translated the series and the names. I should read through my translations…