I organized the current situation.
First, Sophna was pressing her staff against my throat.
Second, the reason behind this was because she had suspected that I would be harmful to the Earl.
Finally, Sophna had asked the spy who she had assigned to me, Ariya, for the verdict.
She then continued her explanation.
“Yujin······ he is not harmful to Her Excellency the Earl. If anything, Yujin is acting for the sake of Her Excellency the Earl.”
The glowing light that was wrapped around Ariya’s body remained white. This response must have been outside of her expectations as Sophna then narrowed her eyes.
“During your previous report, did you not say that there were many things about him that were suspicious? For example, the incident that had occurred on top of the castle wall.”
“That was a misunderstanding.”
Ariya responded flatly. The glowing light was still white.
Sophna closed one eye and appeared as if she were in deep thought. The pressure coming from her staff was dissipating as well. A long silence. Eventually, the glowing light wrapped around Ariya’s body dispersed like a bunch of snow pellets.
Sophna withdrew her staff and took a single step back. Eyes that resembled a quiet and still field looked down at me.
“I will be watching you.”
The head vassal of the Earl’s estate spoke with a voice that sounded like branches that were trembling due to the winter wind.
“Since this much time has passed, this most likely cannot be seen as simply Mii’s whim. For it to be possible to still have hope despite the terrible experience she had gone through. Although I am delighted by this fact, I am not pleased about that learning capability. As the teacher of that dull-witted student, I intend to watch over you instead. Thoroughly and stoically. Thus, if I become certain that you will be harmful to Mii, this castle, and this city······!”
I held back my urge to cough. I didn’t rub my neck either.
I spoke while ignoring the pain that was still going through my neck.
“Do as you wish.”
Sophna turned her head and laughed. Coldly.
It was at that moment.
Sii, who had approached us without me noticing, was now standing between me and Sophna. Even though she was incredibly scared and trembling with fear right now, Sii shook her head with a resolute expression on her face. The sneer on Sophna’s face, which resembled a poisonous plant, withered away.
The half-sister of the lord of the city and the head vassal stared at each other like that for a moment.
The first person to turn their head away was Sophna.
“I will be watching.”
Those were her last words. Similar to how she had appeared, her departure was abrupt as well.
It seems the strength in Sii’s legs must have left her the instant Sophna departed as she promptly started to stagger. She then hastily grabbed my neck.
“Yujin, are you okay!? Does your neck not hurt!?”
“It hurts more right now. I feel like it might break so I would be grateful if you released me.”
“Ah, sorry. I’m not being sane right now either. ······And Yujin is ill-mannered! Mhm~~! I was worried about you but that’s your response!”
Sii relaxed her grip as she complained. I glanced at Sii and expressed my gratitude to her before I turned to face Ariya.
“As I thought, you came to us because Sophna had sent you.”
Ariya lowered her head at a 30 degrees angle. Sii erupted.
“You traitor! For you to have come to us just so you could spy on Yujin who had saved your life! Despite that, what do you mean by ‘I’m here to repay my debt’!?”
Ariya’s head went down further and was now at a 67.5 degrees angle. I grabbed Sii’s shoulder.
“You did well.”
“······Are you saying that, to me, Fair Grace?”
“You were able to give Sophna a good evasive answer just now. I’m alive thanks to you.”
Ariya was unable to raise her head. Although she had no other choice but to answer like that since she was in the same boat as us and Alshi’s life was also on the line, even if that were disclosed, there was most likely nothing else that could be gained other than a contemptible satisfaction.
Instead, I recalled the glowing light that had been wrapped around Ariya’s body. Furthermore, I also recalled the words that Roroa had spoken when we were discussing mind magic.
“That light, was that like some sort of lie detecting spell?”
“To be exact, it’s a spell that detects when someone is feeling agitated or perturbed.”
As much as that was the case, that meant that the spell wouldn’t be able to pick out the lies as long as one’s answers contained a certain degree of truth to them. Certainly, the answer that Ariya had given contained a reasonable amount of truth. In the end, ‘rehabilitating’ means that we’re trying to make the Earl a better person. ‘It wasn’t a lie’ is an obvious cliche, but that sort of obvious answer worked on this sort of obvious spell.
Looking at it the other way around, this means that Sophna is also aware that her spell can be breached with this sort of method. It was most likely because of this reason that she had declared that she was going to be watching me and refused to put away her suspicion.
However, if she really intended to just watch over me, then she should have pretended to have believed in the result of her spell. No, before that, she shouldn’t have entered this room and made her presence known in the first place. Sophna Radgrinkle, the Head Vassal of the House of the Lion Earl was a more lax individual than I had expected.
Although it would be easy to come to this conclusion.
Instead of doing so.
“Can you tell me about what sort of person Sophna is?”
Ariya nodded while her gaze was still lowered.
A long time ago, the foundation where this city is currently located was in a state where there was an abundant number of fissures spread throughout it. Occasionally, those crevices would increase in number, grow wider, become deeper, and spew lava. Naturally, non-wicked beings were incapable of living in this sort of region, and as time continued to pass, mineral resources continued to pile up in the ground and the area around it.
Once a water dragon had settled down on this volatile ground, its Dragon Force created a Dragon Cage which then finally calmed down the rampaging earth.
An official pioneering order was given. It was a decree which stated that whoever slew the dragon would, without question, be given a noble status and be allowed to rule over that very land. A new palatinate. A new earl. Tempted by these two rewards, both the unlicensed pioneers and adventurers who were in the vicinity of the region made their way towards this land. After carrying out their assault for a long period of time, they eventually succeeded in breaching the Dragon Cage and creating an encampment above the dragon’s nest.
There was one person that was particularly prominent. It was a woman. She had blonde, blinding hair which was disheveled and resembled a lion’s mane, and due to her aptitude for both martial arts and magic, she was an individual who had received the title of ‘Golden Lion’ during her childhood. Although she was an unparalleled womanizer and a boundlessly cruel hooligan, in contrast, she was a person who evoked a charm that attracted people.
The Golden Lion had 7 retainers. While one of them was a warrior, they were also a competent blacksmith, and as another was a mage, they were also a competent seamstress. Another retainer was a mage and also a competent educator, and there was also a retainer who was a warrior and a competent jurist as well. Another one was a rogue and a competent pharmacist while another was a warrior and a competent merchant. The final retainer, as expected, was a competent gardener as a mage.
Mikatni, Naricpitor, Shyobel, Orgit, Edentras, Cepabil, and Radgrinkle.
As these individuals were the Golden Lion’s hands and feet, once the Golden Lion had beheaded the water dragon and obtained control over the palatinate, they became the 7 households that acted as pillars to support her.
A lot of things occurred as the years went by. Both Mikatni and Naricpitor’s families safely became the community leaders of the city. Shyobel’s household collapsed after 50 years which then resulted in its amalgamation with Naricpitor’s family, and recently, Orgit’s household had also ended up in a similar state. Edentras’ household fell into ruin early on. Cepabil, who used to be the illegitimate child of the House of the Cat Earl, returned to her original house after she was accepted as an official daughter due to the recognition she had received. And Radgrinkle became a vassal that aided the earl’s family.
Among those, Sophna was a part of the Radgrinkle bloodline. To be more precise, she was the same exact Radgrinkle as the one who was the Golden Lion’s retainer. Through ‘ascension’, she had succeeded in throwing aside the boundary of her own lifespan.
Even after her lord and close friends had all passed away, she continued to live. In order to look after her lord’s family and protect them, she became the head vassal and also doubled as the leader of the Royal Guard. According to the state of the city, she would also double as the captain of the guards and, in order to personally educate the bloodline of the House of the Lion Earl, she would also carry out the role of an exclusive tutor. Since Sophna herself was a mage, she was also the exclusive mage of the earl’s family. The only important role which she did not handle while taking care of the House of the Lion Earl was the role of a nanny. Ariya Orgit stated that if Sophna were capable of producing breast milk, then she would have taken that role as well.
“That’s a tremendous story.”
That was my response.
“Her and Yudia being the same age make sense now. I also understand how she’s able to carry out so many roles despite shutting herself in her room.”
“Mm. To be more exact, she started to shut herself in her room after Her Excellency the Earl was kidnapped. Before then, she would come up regularly.”
I felt as if I had heard about this tidbit before from the recordings I had gathered through my hidden cameras. ‘Ever since she shut herself in’, were the exact words. In other words, this meant that there were maids who could recall the time when Sophna didn’t shut herself in her room.
There were all sorts of thoughts scattered throughout my head, but regardless of all this, there was only a single conclusion.
“It seems that I’m not going to be able to avoid a conflict with her.”
Sii turned to look at me hesitantly.
“With Miss Sophna?”
“Yes. A long-standing vassal with conservative tendencies is the most dangerous threat to me in my current state.”
The amount of trust, experience, and authority she had accumulated as she served the earl’s family for over a century were most likely on a level that was incomparable to the small amount I had. The fact that she could call the Earl by her name proved this fact. Even her strength, there was no way that the spells she had displayed until now were all that she could do when she was one of the mages that took part in slaying a dragon.
“Nevertheless, this can also be seen as an opportunity. For starters, the timing isn’t bad. While Sophna was shutting herself in her room, I was able to extend my reach over the guards and raise the Earl’s good impression towards me by a considerable amount. Moreover, if I’m able to do something about just her, then that means I’ll be able to completely establish my position here in this castle.”
“How will you do it?”
Ariya asked with a worried look on her face. I adjusted my glasses.
“No matter who you’re dealing with, there are always 4 different approaches. Make a deal with them, obey them, win them over, or get rid of them.”
“Getting rid of her doesn’t seem like an option for us right now.”
“The difficulty would be too high. Obeying her isn’t an option for us either. We’ll have to put an emphasis on making a deal with her or winning her over. If we wish to accomplish either one of these, then we’ll have to get rid of our own weaknesses while we’re investigating hers. The most urgent matter is the former. We currently have the weakness known as the reality of the assault incident after all.”
Additionally, this was an incredibly critical weakness. I asked a question to Ariya who was still lowering her head.
“Tell me everything you had reported to Sophna until now.”
“Yeah! Don’t leave out even a single detail and spill it all out!”
Sii panted. Ariya did so with her head still bowed.
The observation started at the beginning of this month. She would report to Sophna anything significant that would happen while watching me from a distance. The reports were usually given through the basket, but there was another method as well. Ariya told me that she would talk about this method more after her explanation. Sii displayed a displeased face, but she soon concentrated on the rest of Ariya’s story.
Although the observation continued, there was a limit to what could be achieved while maintaining a distance. Sophna must have also realized this as she had then decided to stick Ariya closer to me. Sophna had ordered Ariya to make up any reason she could in order to live together with me. She knew that I would become wary if Ariya were to approach me saying that it was on her orders.
If you consider just the result, this was the very move that Sophna had checkmated herself with.
Ariya was sent on an errand and met Zia at the arena. She then requested if she could be assigned as my exclusive maid. Through her observations, she was aware of the fact that I was on good terms with Zia, so if she wished to approach me, whose status was that of a squire, she believed that it would be more natural if she were to do so while under Zia’s orders.
At that point, Ariya was sincerely just investigating me. The reason behind this was because she believed that it was Sophna who had done something behind-the-scenes in order to narrowly rescue her, who had committed theft, from death. However, when she had gone to meet Zia in order to make up a reason to live together with me, and when she had brought up Sophna’s name, Zia surmised the situation and spoke the words that, to Sophna, were absolutely needless.
“It was then that I found out that it was Fair Grace who had saved me.”
From that point on, things proceeded in a more complex manner. Even though she was in a state of panic after hearing about the details, Ariya witnessed me being assaulted by the mask-wearing maids the instant she came to our room after receiving Zia’s approval. She immediately leaped in and rescued us. Afterward, she was able to start living with me just as she had wanted, however, she was unable to observe me properly as she did before and she couldn’t give proper reports either.
“I couldn’t make things disadvantageous for the person who had saved my life. Furthermore, since Alshi was mixed in with the attackers, I obviously couldn’t give a proper report about that either.”
After saying that, Ariya soon corrected herself.
“······No, those are just excuses. I was simply confused. I didn’t know what I should do. That’s why I kept giving vague reports under the excuse that I would postpone the issue until I came to a conclusion.”
As I expected, if you purely consider the results, then this was what ended up becoming good luck for us. The hidden cameras and the times when Sii and I would occasionally display suspicious behaviors were not reported to Sophna. If these things were reported, then it wouldn’t have ended with simple browbeating.
“Isn’t that a relief, Yujin?”
Sii spoke as she shivered slightly. I nodded and turned back to Ariya.
“Tell me about the ‘other report method’.”
Ariya took out a rod that was emitting a gray glow and presented it to me.
“It’s called a Truth Evoker(Trebet’ wez, 情棍).”
There was a silver gem embedded on one end of the rod.
“In easy to understand terms, this rod was permanently enchanted with a spell that’s similar to what Miss Sophna had used on me earlier. When the portion of the rod with the gem embedded in it is held, the rod has properties that make it shift in color and temperature according to the wielder’s mood. No matter how many times you break the rod apart, once a person wields it, the change spreads equally throughout every piece of the rod that was a part of the main body when it was initially enchanted.”
Therefore, if a crisis were to occur, then the wielder’s shift in mood would also be transmitted to any other section of the rod that may be in the possession of another person. So during the incident when Alshi had been stabbed, Sophna most likely appeared quickly because of this item.
“Can I try holding it?”
Ariya willingly handed the Truth Evoker over to me. The rod was emanating a soft gray glow, but the rod started to shine radiantly the instant it entered my hand.
Ariya looked surprised.
“Fair Grace, are you perhaps excited right now?”
“Is that so? But this is definitely the color of excitement······.”
“I’m not excited.”
I passed the Truth Evoker over to Sii. The rod became red-hot once it was in her hands. The heat of a crater that could make the sole of a shoe melt, it was the color of lava that would avidly lick at the ankles of its victims.
Even in reality, the inside of the room was becoming hot and humid. It was influencing the actual temperature as well. The burning scent I felt like I could smell when Alshi had been stabbed and the fact that Ariya’s body was strangely hotter than usual at that time wasn’t just my imagination and was most likely caused by this Truth Evoker.
I took the Truth Evoker back from Sii and returned it to Ariya. The rod which had become hot to the point that it could singe my skin quickly cooled down and turned white once it entered my hands before it then settled back into a dull gray color the instant it returned to Ariya’s hands.
“The only thing that’s transmitted through this is the wielder’s mood, right?”
“Yes. That is the case.”
“This and that truth detecting spell are on the same level of the lie detectors in my world. Continue to keep it with you. Let’s say that you never showed this to us and that you’re still acting as a spy.”
“Does Fair Grace think that Miss Sophna will continue to trust me?”
I recalled Sophna’s behavior.
“Not really. Wouldn’t Sophna have noticed that you’ve been won over by me? She’ll probably figure out that you’re continuing to act as a spy but under my orders. Regardless, I’m just a kid. And I must really be a kid in Sophna’s eyes. She’ll most likely see me as a kid who’s scheming something obvious. It’d be great if she lowered her guard like that, but it’s fine if she doesn’t. The important thing is that we’re increasing the number of cards we can use.”
Ariya nodded her head and I continued.
“Wrapping up the issues. Receive an apology from the Earl and rehabilitate her. While we’re trying to establish enough influence to accomplish this, we’ll also perform a meritorious deed. Until then, we can’t let our plans be revealed. In order to do so, we have to either make a deal with Sophna or win her over. For that same reason, the most important thing right now is to explain everything to Alshi and receive an assurance from her. In order to do that, when Alshi wakes up, we have to be at her side before Sophna.”
Fortunately, we were able to accomplish that last part with ease. That’s because there was nothing weird about Alshi’s lover, Ariya, being by her side. There was also nothing weird about the Vice-captain of the guards, Roroa, being there as well. Furthermore, there was nothing weird about me and Sii, the ones who had first discovered Alshi while she was in her critical state, being called by Roroa.
Once we got to the room after being led by Roroa, we had arrived shortly after Ariya had finished roughly explaining the situation to Alshi. Ariya was lowering her head as if she were ashamed. Alshi was also doing the same thing, but she soon raised her head first and patted Ariya’s head.
“You really, are an idiot. ······Although I’m the same as well.”
Ariya made a tearful face as she let herself be comforted by Alshi’s hand on her head. That was also at a disheveled 16.7 degrees angle. Like so, the communion of the lovers occupied the room for a moment. Respectable people would end up closing their mouths, and it was a time where it would be appropriate to do so.
“Seriously. If you had talked properly when I called you out before, then things wouldn’t have ended up like this.”
It was Sii Garno Mikatni who had spoken during this time and in this space.
“That’s right, that’s right, wan. I said so before, but the two of you need to talk to each other more.”
Roroa wasn’t a pushover either. Moreover, compared to Sii, Roroa’s aggro rate was higher. Ariya gnashed her teeth and, similarly, Alshi made a stern face.
“For the person who had used me a bunch, harassed Ariya, and stabbed me with a knife, you talk well.”
“Wan? Did something like that happen, wan? Did we not agree that ‘that never happened, and never happened to begin with’? I feel like if we didn’t, then we all, you two included, would be in a very unfortunate situation, isn’t that so, wan?”
“Wan! I’ll be in your care.”
Roroa spoke in a fresh tone. Ariya and Alshi both glared at her.
Sii was also making a face.
“You’re really rolling your tongue well in a situation like this. Shouldn’t you be the person to show the most self-restraint right now?”
Instead of saying that she was giving a hand to what Sii had said first, Roroa made a serious face.
“Wan. Miss Sii, let me give you a good piece of advice, wan. Self-restraint is something you do when someone stronger than you is upset, wan. It’s not something to be worried about when the weak are whispering among themselves, wan.”
“Are you calling us weak?”
“Are you not, wan?”
Ariya stood up angrily. I could clearly see the veins on the back of her hand where her bones were protruding. Alshi grabbed onto that hand.
I felt this before, but as I expected, this girl was the mature one.
“I’ll do it.”
In the end, I had to speak up.
“Miss Sii, the same goes for your first comment and your comment just now, but there’s no need for you to say those sorts of words with that timing. Roroa, you as well, why are you chipping in and provoking them as well? It’s not like you to do something that isn’t beneficial to you at all.”
“Wan. Don’t the two of them know about my circumstances now, wan? Isn’t it fine if I freely reveal my true self? I’ve been putting on an innocent air for so long that it should be okay for me to relieve some stress, right, wan? Also, I don’t like couples, wan.”
“Well, that’s like you. The last point doesn’t matter. In any case, stop it. This is an order.”
Roroa flapped her ears. I turned back to face Alshi and Ariya.
“I won’t tell you two to forget about everything that had been done to you. Even if I did, I doubt you two would. You were arrested, you were nearly killed, and your lover was almost murdered. You’ve experienced all sorts of bad things. I understand.”
This was the truth. They must have felt my sincerity as the breathing of the two martial artist type maids settled down.
“Regardless of all that, we’re in the same boat now. If you try to push a single person off of the boat, then we’ll end up submerging together. This is probably the last thing the two of you want.”
Ariya dropped her head.
“You’re right, Fair Grace. But, I.”
“I know. I said I understand, so.”
I stood behind Roroa, put my hands under her armpits, and lifted her up. Roroa started to flail her limbs in panic.
“Wan!? What are you doing, wan!?”
“Let’s adjust the scale.”
Alshi tilted her head.
“What, do you mean?”
“First, any damage that cannot be undone is prohibited. Second, public defamation is prohibited. Third, harming people related to her, for example, someone like Kina, is prohibited. The reason for the first and second restrictions is because, in the end, the two of you did not die and the things you had undergone and committed have not been revealed outside. The final restriction is because I’m hoping that the two of you will be better than her.”
However, if you exclude these three things, I continued.
“You two can do whatever you want to her until your indignations are gone.”
Ariya and Alshi glanced at each other before approaching me.
“Can we really do anything we want?”
“You’re saying that, sincerely, right?”
“As long as you do it in front of me.”
Lynching only in a controlled environment. This was a rule that I had established ever since the 8 Years’ War.
Roroa shouted in panic.
“D-Do you think I’ll let this happen peacefully, wan!?”
“You have to.”
I adjusted my glasses with the crown of Roroa’s head and whispered into her drooping ears.
“It’s an order.”
I handed Roroa over to Ariya and Alshi. Roroa was lifted up by Ariya and her voice was muffled as Alshi proceeded to cover her mouth.
I couldn’t resolve this issue by consoling them half-heartedly. This task of ‘stabilizing the psychological balance’ was important. This wasn’t like Ariya and Sii where they simply didn’t get along. If I don’t handle this properly, if I’m unable to sublimate the grudges that they’re harboring, then this will definitely turn out badly. Although I could resolve things no matter how many times they happened during the 8 Years’ War, allowing that to happen now in this current situation means that everyone here will have to lose their lives after some heated torturing.
If you think of it like that, then you can consider the predicament that’s currently happening to Roroa as vaccination shots.
“You remember that any damage that cannot be undone is prohibited, right?”
“Yes, Fair Grace. We know.”
“There’s nothing, to worry about. We know where every single pressure point is, on a Saber-Fang’s body.
“Wan! Waan······! Kahak······!”
“Wait a second, wasn’t that an internal organ just now······?”
“It didn’t burst.”
Well, it most likely didn’t burst since she said it didn’t, and it really mustn’t have burst since Alshi is also nodding her head, but this scene feels needlessly brutal because of their difference in height.
“I guess I should prepare some medicine.”
Sii responded to the words I had mumbled inadvertently to myself.
“Yujin, you’re really kind.”
That’s the last thing you should be saying······.
Alshi proved her words. Although Roroa, who was literally beaten like a dog, had bruises all over her body and her face would contort every time she took a single step, in any case, there were no severe injuries. Sii was in awe.
“What an impressive technique.”
“Wan······ why are you getting moved by something like that?”
Roroa growled. Her voice sounded as if she were still suffering from the lingering pain, but it seems she wasn’t disheartened. She looked at Ariya and Alshi with sharp eyes. I grabbed her head and turned her towards me.
“Look at me with that sort of gaze. I’m the one who made them do it.”
Roroa hesitated for a moment before doing so. I received her gaze properly.
It was a short moment of silence before she then turned her head away.
I patted her head before raising my head to face Ariya and Alshi.
“Are you satisfied?”
“We’re somewhat satisfied. We still can’t forgive her, though.”
“I won’t ask for the impossible. There’s no problem with working together, right?”
“For now, yes.”
“Then it’s fine.”
I spoke in a simple tone, but I knew that in actuality, these sorts of things didn’t proceed that easily. They’ll need more time and motivation. Regardless, I was at least able to put out an urgent fire.
“Let’s do our best from now on.”
Although I had put out a really urgent fire.
“Wan······. Then I’ll be in your care from now on, the two of you both, wan.”
Roroa spoke while smiling coldly.
“We’re the ones.”
“That’ll be in, your care.”
Both Ariya and Alshi responded with cold smiles on their faces as well.
“Mm~~······. Yujin, did it perhaps feel like this when dealing with me and Ariya?”
Sii, who was stuck in the middle, was wrapping her arms around her shoulders while in the crevice of cold gazes.
“For the time being, things will be more difficult than before.”
I simply answered her like that.
TL note: Thanks for reading the chapter. I’m sorry for taking so long to translate this chapter. I’m done with the part-time job I was doing for a short period of time, but trying to get back into translating YaMA took some time. It’s been almost 10 months since I translated the previous volume, so I forgot about a lot of things. I think 70% of the translation process of this chapter was me going back to look at previous volumes to see how I had translated certain things. Didn’t help that the weekend was in-between there and I tend to procrastinate a lot during the weekends.
In any case, the translation progress of this volume is probably going to start up slow, but it should pick up in pace after more chapters are out. I have to familiarize myself with this series again.