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Goldie’s weapon was a treasured sword… but despite being called that, it was only its sheath that was decorated; the sword itself didn’t have any remarkable features other than a gemstone embedded in its hilt.
It was said to be a symbol that was required for the ritual of sealing away an evil god, and that it was proof that its bearer was a knight who had pledged his sword to the duke’s house.
In times of peace, the bearer of the sword was a holy man who guarded the seal on the evil gods. But when he drew the sword, he would fight as a knight.
However, this treasured sword was currently being pointed at Baldiria, another of the Five Knights of Alcrem who served the duke’s house.
Leaving Goldie’s unconscious partner on the floor of the room, Baldiria raised a pair of hatchets in front of her, one in each hand. They weren’t her weapons of choice, but this was all she could manage in the confined space of this hidden room.
Goldie noticed that there was nobody else behind Baldiria.
“… So, you have not brought the other knights with you – Bravatiyu and Serjio. Do you really believe you can apprehend me on your own?” he asked, glaring at her with a puzzled expression, a wrinkle formed between his eyebrows. “No, perhaps evacuating His Excellency comes first? Given Ralmeya’s current state, I suppose you had no choice –”
“No, I haven’t reported this to the duke or the other two. However, I have ordered my subordinates to report to them in the unlikely event that I don’t return,” said Baldiria.
“… What?” Goldie muttered, unable to comprehend what she had just said.
Baldiria did not let her guard down, but looked at Goldie with sadness in her eyes. “Confess to your crimes and honorably accept your arrest. If you do that, His Excellency will be lenient with your punishment. At the very least, I will look after your wife and children. I swear it, on my honor as a knight.”
As a companion and ally, Baldiria was taking pity on Goldie and giving him a chance to surrender.
“What…!” Goldie breathed, opening his eyes wide and lowering the point of his treasured sword in disbelief.
Indeed, if he were to surrender here, some leniency would be granted to him.
Ordinarily, Goldie would be publicly executed. His house would be stripped of its court rank and fortune, and his wife and children would be cast onto the streets. But if he were to surrender, and his past accomplishments were taken into account, then perhaps he would be given the option of drinking poison to die a death that wasn’t witnessed by the public, and his house would lose only its court rank.
“When did you begin suspecting me?” Goldie asked. “I’d noticed that you were investigating with different methods from Bravatiyu. But neither I nor my partner left any evidence, and our alibis should have been air-tight. There shouldn’t have been anything to suggest that my partner even exists.”
The point of Goldie’s treasured sword had been lowered, but he did not let go of its hilt.
“As you say, I had no reason to suspect you,” Baldiria replied. “Your actions, your monetary transactions, your relationships, your past, contact with the victims… I didn’t find anything suspicious. As for your partner, there was no record of him in any of the Guilds… or even in any of the criminal organizations. To be honest, I still don’t even know his name. And yet, he has quite the skill as an assassin. I have no idea where you found a partner like this…”
She let out a sigh as she thought back to the trouble that she’d gone through to capture Goldie’s partner alive.
There were no records that Goldie’s partner had even worked as an ordinary craftsman, let alone as an adventurer. It was a complete mystery as to where he’d gained his Skills as an assassin and scout, and where he had been making his living.
Baldiria would likely need to question him and Goldie and do her own investigation to learn the truth. It was possible that there was a far more enormous shadow behind these incidents than she and the others thought.
However, this would only be possible if Goldie were to surrender.
“Like the city guards, we came to a dead end with our investigation as well,” said Baldiria, continuing to speak in order to encourage Goldie to give up on resisting. “That’s why I decided to change my way of thinking, like Bravatiyu did. He came up with the creative idea of using a ‘Spiritualist’ and finding the spirits of the victims, but I decided to suspect the people who I had no reason to suspect.”
Changing her way of thinking, Baldiria had conducted her investigation under the assumption of, ‘What if this person were the Face-tearing Demon?’ This investigation had included her master, Duke Takkard Alcrem, as well as his son, the main retainers of his house, and the others of the Five Knights – her comrades.
Upon doing this, she had found that there was something off about the way Goldie had been speaking and acting recently.
There had been nothing conclusive enough to call suspicious. However, even though Baldiria was a Dwarf who looked like a girl in her teenage years, she was older than Bravatiyu, despite the fact that his hair had already started to gray, and even older than Takkard. She had known Goldie since the previous ‘Knight of the Collapsed Mountains’ was still alive.
The experience of her years had told her that something was wrong.
Upon investigating Goldie thoroughly, she had learned that a cheap Item Box, which had been passed down by his family, had been taken outside his residence. On top of that, someone’s shadow had been prowling about.
“The most damning thing was that several criminal slaves had been transported by a slave trader to the sacred wastelands where you guard the seal on the evil gods, supposedly for the purpose of maintaining the seal,” Baldiria continued. “I had the slave trader draw a sketch of the criminal slaves, and… one of them resembled the face skin that was discovered yesterday.”
“I thought I could trust that slave trader, but I see that he was not only a fellow with a good memory, but a loose tongue as well,” Goldie muttered.
“I used the authority of the Five Knights in order to make him speak, so don’t blame him,” Baldiria said. “But in retrospect, it’s only natural. Crimes that are being covered up by not only criminal organizations, but city guards, knights, and high-ranking noblemen as well, could only be uncovered by His Excellency, with his organization of spies, and us, the Five Knights of Alcrem.”
“Indeed… Hmm? Wait, Baldiria. What in the world are you saying?”
“I will say it as many times as I must, Goldie. As a knight myself, I will take pity on you and offer you a chance to surrender yourself into custody as the ‘Knight of the Collapsed Mountains,’ rather than being forcibly arrested as the ‘Face-tearing Demon.’ I understand your desire to punish those who cannot be punished by the law. But as a knight, you have crossed a line that must not be crossed! You must also face punishment!”
Her words of criticism against Goldie’s actions were very reasonable. Even if his motives were rooted in the execution of justice, he had pledged his sword to the duke’s house and was receiving payment for his service; he was a knight who was supposed to judge people through law and authority, not power alone.
As a knight, even if criminals couldn’t be punished through official means right now, he was supposed to continue fighting so that one day, they could. It was absolutely unacceptable for him to create unrest in society by assassinating them with grotesque methods and putting them on display to the public.
“Your justice has already failed! Among those whose faces were torn off, there were some who were indeed criminals but whose crimes were not so severe that they deserved to be executed. And yesterday, you tore off the face of a criminal slave, who has already been judged… You are no longer judging criminals; your objective is to simply continue your crimes as the Face-tearing Demon!” said Baldiria.
Indeed, the justice behind the more recent crimes was questionable. The Face-tearing Demon was no assassin acting in the name of justice; he was just a grotesque serial killer.
Hearing her argument, Goldie gave a small groan, and the expression on his face became twisted – and then he burst into laughter.
“W-what is so funny?” said Baldiria, bewildered by this unexpected response.
Goldie looked at her with a smile that she had never seen before. “This situation! It is very funny indeed! I have been imitating the crimes of the true criminal in order to incriminate him, but to think that I am about to be held responsible for the crimes of the true criminal instead!” he laughed. “How long are you going to stay asleep? Divide, partner!”
In response to the command from Goldie, the fake Face-tearing Demon, the sound of tearing leather echoed in the room, and two arms appeared from the back of his unconscious partner.
“What?!” Baldiria shouted in surprise.
Her defense was open for just a single moment, and the two arms delivered overarm blows on top of her. Their movement was swift, and she was unable to brush them away with her hatchets.
However, the only wound she received was a scratch on the cheek. In response to the inhuman movement of Goldie’s companion, Baldiria stomped his spine and crushed it, then used her momentum to retreat.
Giving up on convincing Goldie to surrender himself, she attempted to unleash a martial skill, partially also to alert Bravatiyu and Serjio to the situation, as they were also on the villa’s grounds.
But in the next moment, she gave a small gasp as the strength drained from her entire body. She fell to her knees, and both of her hatchets rolled loudly across the floor.
Goldie and his partners, of whom there were now two, breathed a sigh of relief as they saw Baldiria collapse.
“That was dangerous. If you had come here with a halberd instead of hatchets, I would have been swept away along with my arms.”
“Yes, our venom, too…”
“It is useless if it doesn’t enter the body, after all.”
If Goldie used his true power – not his strength as the ‘Knight of the Collapsed Mountains’ – Baldiria was not an opponent he would be unable to defeat. However, he could not afford to be noticed by the others of the Five Knights… or by Vandalieu.
Goldie’s partner, whose spine she had crushed underfoot, was growing not only more arms, but a new head and torso… It was as if a human was undergoing fission like a Slime would.
Baldiria was astonished by this, but managed to move her numb tongue enough to speak. “Venom… Impossible, I have the ‘Poison Resistance’ Skill…”
She attempted to try and reach for the antidote Potion in her pocket, but her arm refused to obey her; it was totally useless, as if the bones inside it had completely melted.
“I know that you possess the ‘Poison Resistance’ Skill. However, it seems that it could not resist the venom that has been granted to us… the venom of a god,” said Goldie.
“God, you say?” Baldiria murmured. “It can’t be, you people, recently…”
“Don’t think we’re the same as those potential heroes who have been popping up recently, with divine protections from the gods,” Goldie said. “We have been serving a single god for over a hundred thousand years. We are –”
“Partner, the previous partner is at his limit,” said Goldie’s newly-formed partner, interrupting him. “He will die at this rate.”
“Ah, yes. This isn’t the time for me to be explaining my secrets to you,” said Goldie.
The partner whose spine had been crushed by Baldiria was writhing on the floor, unable to get up.
“There will be no need to transfer the ‘Rapid Regeneration’ Skill. Return to me, partner,” Goldie said.
“Very well. I will fuse with you,” said the partner on the floor.
He took Goldie’s hand, and a disgusting slurping sound filled the room. His body shriveled away, eventually vanishing completely, leaving only his black clothes behind.
Baldiria was in shocked disbelief, but she was no longer able to speak due to the effects of the venom. Goldie’s remaining partner grabbed her and dragged her inside the hidden room.
“I suppose even a person like you would be shocked to learn that one of your fellow knights is a monster mimicking a human? I believe I had no relationship with you outside of work, and I conversed with you no more than was strictly necessary, but… it is difficult. Even if I mimic the appearance, words, Jobs and Skills of a human, I cannot become one,” said Goldie.
Goldie was not a human. He was a creature similar to a Mimic Slime, created by an evil god, mimicking a human.
He possessed greater mimicry abilities than an ordinary Mimic Slime; he was able to acquire Jobs like a human, and he could even take over a human’s Status and steal their Skills by infesting their bodies and devouring them from the inside.
If Baldiria knew this, she might have noticed what Goldie truly was and that there was a god behind his actions.
Within the army led by the Demon King Guduranis, which was defeated by the army led by the champion Bellwood, there was a god named Zerzoregin, the Evil God of Cannibalism, who created abnormal monsters.
The monsters created by the Evil God of Cannibalism were specialized in disguising themselves, particularly as people or animals.
Many of the monsters created by the Demon King and the other evil gods were monsters that were simply strong – enormous monsters with incredible physical strength and resilience, or the ability to breathe powerful streams of fire or ice, or the ability to produce deadly venom. The monsters created by Zerzoregin were quite different from them.
These monsters would possibly be known as Mimic Humans if they were to be named, and they were capable of generating copies of themselves, just like the way certain plants grew underground rhizomes for propagation.
Mimic Humans attacked humans and took their forms, successfully causing chaos within the champions’ army.
However, that was only at the beginning of the battle. Once the champions’ army was at a disadvantage, and humans were so few in number that those remaining were concentrated in one location, there was no gap for the Mimic Humans to infiltrate their society, and each individual human had grown stronger due to the Status System, so the Mimic Humans were quickly discovered and destroyed.
An evil god named Forzajival, the Evil God of Pillaging, had resented Zerzoregin’s success; once that success began to fade, he attacked Zerzoregin to steal his power.
As the Evil God of Cannibalization and the Evil God of Pillaging fought one another, Farmaun joined the battle and cut them down, striking them down into the mountain range that existed in the northern region of the Bahn Gaia continent at the time. There, Borgadon, the God of Mountains, whose soul had been almost completely broken by the Demon King Guduranis, sacrificed himself and the mountains to seal the evil gods there. The rocky mountains then collapsed, leaving only a wasteland behind.
This was the legend of the ‘Knights of the Collapsed Mountains,’ who had protected the seal on the evil gods since long before the Alcrem Duchy or even the Alcrem Kingdom.
Goldie is a surviving Mimic Human from that legend… No, he isn’t just capable of mimicking humans; he has become a superior race of Mimic Humans, with enough strength in battle to become one of the Five Knights. Did his Rank increase? No, even if that was the case, what god or gods is he talking about? Is it Borgadon, the God of Mountains? Baldiria wondered.
It was said that Borgadon, the God of Mountains, was in a deep slumber, and the only place where he was worshipped was the holy wasteland where the sealed evil gods were, the one that had been protected by Goldie’s family.
Did he send Goldie and his family Divine Messages or some revelation to take control over them? But why would Borgadon do something like this… Was Borgadon himself not the one who sealed the evil gods away? Why would surviving Mimic Humans created by an evil god obey him?
Baldiria put her mind to work, as her body couldn’t move, but her consciousness began to grow hazy. Goldie grabbed her by the hair to lift her face and looked into her eyes.
“Hmph,” he muttered. “I wonder why it is. When you came in here with my partner, I thought of you as nothing but a hindrance, but now, I feel like I want to tell you my secrets and my future plans.”
“Humans are apparently creatures who want to tell their secrets to others, partner,” said Goldie’s partner. “Perhaps you have spent so long acting as a human that you have picked up some of their traits?”
“I see. Indeed… It has been over thirty years since I became Goldie. I took over the previous ‘Knight of the Collapsed Mountains,’ took on this appearance, and gradually changed it over time so that I looked like I was growing and aging like an ordinary human. I picked up human traits during that time. It is not an absurd idea,” said Goldie.
Goldie had not killed and taken on the appearance of a previously-existing human known as the ‘Knight of the Collapsed Mountains’ Goldie. This Mimic Human’s mimicked appearance had, from the very beginning, been known as the ‘Knight of the Collapsed Mountains’ Goldie.
In fact, for over a hundred thousand years, every head of the family that had protected the seal on the evil gods, and several people related to the family, had all been Mimic Humans.
Baldiria had wondered, why would a Mimic Human created by Zerzoregin, the Evil God of Cannibalism, protect the seal on the very same god? It was an obvious question, but the truth was very simple.
Zerzoregin, the Evil God of Cannibalism, had never been sealed away.
Over a hundred thousand years ago, during the battle between Zerzoregin and Forzajival, the Evil God of Pillaging, Zerzoregin had been heavily wounded by Farmaun and struck down into the mountain range, and Borgadon, the God of Mountains, had tried to seal him away. This much was true.
However, the moment Borgadon attempted to seal him away, Zerzoregin had devoured the Evil God of Pillaging, whose wounds were deeper than his own.
Having recovered some portion of his strength, he had broken through Borgadon’s seal and devoured him as well, absorbing and assimilating him.
Zerzoregin, who had become the Evil God of Cannibalism and Pillaging after stealing the powers of the Evil God of Pillaging and the God of Mountains, used those powers to the maximum extent possible to fake his own death… and pretend to be sealed away.
Zerzoregin had absorbed and assimilated two gods, but both of those gods had been heavily wounded at the time; even after becoming the Evil God of Cannibalism and Pillaging, he was far from having recovered to his original strength.
If he were to return above ground in such a state, he would have been slain by the champion without even having a chance to return a blow. Given that, he had been left with no choice but to pretend to be sealed away.
Zerzoregin had made this decision and been kept alive to this day by Mimic Humans such as Goldie.
Even after the Demon King Guduranis was defeated, and after Vida and Alda fought each other, and even as over a hundred thousand years passed, Zerzoregin had maintained the false seal.
He had created Mimic Humans who lived under the pretense that they were a family who had been entrusted with the mission of guarding the seal, and created legends of a god who protected the seal and evil gods sealed within it, which had spread amongst the humans. As Zerzoregin was both the god protecting the seal and the god sealed within, he received power from both the humans’ prayers to the former and their fear towards the latter, with which he had healed his wounds.
However, he had not carried out any acts that other evil gods would… He had not forced followers to offer him living sacrifices, or orchestrated monster attacks on humans, or interfered with the repairing of the world.
In fact, he had ordered his Mimic Humans to hunt monsters in order to protect the ‘sacred grounds,’ and sent them to the various human leaders that had come and gone over time, contributing to their nations.
This was because the humans who offered their prayers and fear were livestock, and the more of them there were, the better it was for Zerzoregin. Furthermore, he had to avoid his fake seal being discovered by Alda and his servants at all cost.
Thanks to his un-evil-god-like efforts, Bellwood, Farmaun, and Alda, the God of Law and Fate, had all failed to see the truth.
Zerzoregin’s existence had been hidden in the shadow of other evil gods, such as the Evil God of Joyful Life Hihiryushukaka who had been lurking in the Bahn Gaia continent, and the Evil God of Release Ravovifard who had inhabited the Demon Continent. Thus, nobody had conducted any scrupulous investigation to check whether Zerzoregin had truly been sealed away.
In fact, when Alda and his servants searched from their Divine Realms, they had only felt the presence of the God of Mountains, which was radiated by Zerzoregin, the evil god who had absorbed him.
Rodcorte, the God of Reincarnation, would have been able to notice the existence of Goldie and the other Mimic Humans. However, Rodcorte’s strengthened cooperative relationship with Alda was a recent development, and he was focused on Vandalieu rather than the remnants of the Demon King’s army, so he had never learned the truth of Zerzoregin, either.
Zerzoregin had already healed his wounds and regained his power. However, he had planned to continue using his Mimic Humans to maintain the ruse and gather information for the next several hundred years.
After that, he would have executed a plan that would allow him to rule over this world as the new Demon King. Given the results of his experiments thus far, the success of his plan had been all but certain.
All he had needed to do was wait for an opportunity… another great war between Alda and Vida that would exhaust the strength of both sides.
However, the appearance of Vandalieu had forced him to hasten his plans.
“So, what will we do about Baldiria? She will not be of any use in the fight against Vandalieu in this state. Shall I assimilate her and disguise myself as her?” asked Goldie’s partner.
Goldie shook his head. “Simply assimilating her would be easy, but mimicking her exactly will take time. It would be troublesome if a ‘Baldiria’ who is behaving abnormally were to be seen by that overly-suspicious Bravatiyu.”
Mimic Humans were able to steal the Skills of their victims by absorbing and assimilating them, and they were even able to exchange them with one another as if they were physical goods.
With this biological ability, Goldie and his predecessors with the Title of ‘Knight of the Collapsed Mountains’ had been able to maintain their strength in combat, and their ‘partners’ had maintained equally advanced Skills as assassins.
It would be possible to have Goldie’s partner steal Baldiria’s Skills and mimic her exactly, but… it was impossible to mimic her personality within a short period of time. Mimic Humans looked just like real humans, but their weakness was that they were not actually real humans.
“And we don’t know what happens to the souls of people we assimilate. This hidden room has a barrier that prevents spirits from entering or exiting, but… if you absorb Baldiria and leave this room, there is the risk that Baldiria’s spirit will leave your body afterwards and be discovered by Vandalieu,” Goldie added.
“I think you are overthinking things, but I agree that there is no reason that we must kill this woman now,” said Goldie’s partner. “Very well. Let us leave her here.”
The ‘partners’ had been granted the ‘Divine Venom Secretion’ Skill by Zerzoregin, the god who had created them. The venom created by this Skill was lethal, but only a tiny amount had entered Baldiria’s body. Considering her Vitality value, it would likely take at least half a day to kill her.
By the time she died, the plan would have already been completed. No information would leak and reach Vandalieu.
Leaving the barely-conscious Baldiria on the floor of the hidden room, Goldie and his partner waited for their time to come.
Though the villa was in the suburbs, it was still a mansion owned by the duke’s house, and the garden had been arranged magnificently.
Just as Kimberley and the others had reported, it had many blind spots and had been built in a way that it was difficult to look inside from the outside, but the well-maintained trees, flowers, and garden stones were positioned well to prevent visitors from feeling like it was a shady location.
If I hadn’t gathered information beforehand, I would have been shocked by the number of people hidden in the trees, inside the pond and in the mansion, Vandalieu thought.
Unlike Myuze, he did not possess the ‘Detect Presence’ Skill, but he was surprised upon hearing from Kimberley and the others just how many spies and knights the duke had, and where they were positioned.
“Couldn’t it be that they’re looking for a fight?” Orbia whispered.
The Ghosts were wary, and although Gizania and Simon couldn’t see them, they were visibly tense as well.
Vandalieu and his companions were greeted by Duke Takkard Alcrem in the back garden where the garden party had been prepared.
“Thank you for accepting my invitation and coming today. As this tea party is an informal one, please make yourselves at home without worrying about etiquette,” said the duke, seemingly misinterpreting the tension.
Of course, there was a little tension on his face as well. His expression was a little stiff, and breathing was quick. He looked a little pale, and his hair looked lifeless.
One reason he was so tense was the combat abilities of Vandalieu, and –
“Nice to meet you, Duke Alcrem. My name is Vandalieu Zakkart. And this girl is –”
“My name is Juliana.”
The other reason for the Takkard’s tension was Juliana, the little girl who was politely bowing her horned head towards him. Her appearance reminded him of the previous Juliana, his half-sister with whom he did not have a good relationship. Her mannerisms made him hesitate to simply think of her as a monster who could speak human language; they were elegant and refined.
“You are… As I thought!” Takkard breathed.
He had no idea what had happened to her body to cause the current form she had now, or by whose intentions this had happened. But even though his imagination and reasoning could not come up with an answer, he was certain of one thing.
The person before him was none other than Juliana Alcrem.
“It is nice to meet you. This is too great an honor for a mere familiar such as myself,” said Juliana.
Despite the complex emotions expressed on Takkard’s face, she spoke in a disinterested, even cold tone as she denied the conclusion that he had reached.
This only made Takkard even more certain that he was correct, but at the same time, it also lifted a weight from his shoulders.
Takkard had sent her and her knights to their deaths, even if he hadn’t intended it. Because Juliana was explicitly denying their relationship from her previous life, he would not need to take responsibility for that.
Of course, it was possible that the matter would be pressed persistently and indirectly, but neither Juliana, nor Vandalieu, the one she worshipped, desired to do so.
“It seems that you have much interest in her, Lord Duke, but you must forgive me. She is a familiar that I am raising and caring for. If you have business with her, I would be most appreciative if you could make a formal request through the Guild,” said Vandalieu.
With a respectful and polite tone, Vandalieu was telling Takkard: ‘I would like you not to make any ill-conceived attempts to make a move on her.’
“Y-you are absolutely correct,” said Takkard. “I just thought that she resembled an acquaintance of mine when she was young.”
“I see. I am sure someone in the influential position of duke must have an abundance of personal connections, so it is not too far-fetched to think that this girl just happens to resemble one of the many people you know,” said Vandalieu. “She is still young, and her appearance will change as she grows, so I think it would be best if you don’t pay her too much attention.”
This was Vandalieu’s way of telling him: ‘I would like you to not pay her any attention.’
“Y-yes,” said Takkard with a nod.
With that, the matter of Juliana was resolved… or at least, it should be.
Of course, Vandalieu didn’t think that this alone meant that he had formed a bond of trust with Takkard and his house. That would need to be created with discussions during the remainder of the tea party.
“Ah, how silly of me. The tea is getting cold, so please come in. I hope you find it to your taste,” said Takkard, pulling himself together to try and manage the conversation.
He began offering tea and desserts. Though the event was an unofficial one, he had likely prepared tea and desserts of the highest quality available.
The tea brewed by the servants was highly fragrant, the baked desserts had been made with a plentiful amount of butter and sugar, and the tables were lined with rare fruits procured from Dungeons.
“Thank you very much. The tea is very aromatic,” said Darcia, giving Takkard a soft smile.
Her smile was extremely natural, and yet… the movements of her hands were a little suspicious.
Darcia was skilled even in diplomacy in the nations within the Boundary Mountain Range, but her manners in human societies weren’t quite perfect. She had managed to make do to some extent during the tea party with Earl Morksi, but it seemed that she was more nervous when dealing with a duke rather than an earl.
“V-Van, could you please pass me a cup?” asked Gizania.
She and the others were experiencing human society for the first time, so their manners were even more clumsy, and they even had an additional disadvantage in their body shapes.
This was especially true for Gizania with her enormous spider-like lower body; if she stood with her back straightened, she couldn’t reach the table.
“Yes, here you go,” said Vandalieu, handing her the cup. “Myuze and Privel, you’re not allowed to use your sickles and tentacles,” he said as a reminder.
“I know, but…” Myuze muttered, using a knife far smaller than her own sickles to spread jam on a piece of bread.
“Mmm, it’s so inconvenient, only being able to use two hands,” said Privel, a little irritated at the fact that if she held her teacup in one hand, she could only hold a single baked dessert in the other hand.
“… I’m nervous in a totally different way,” whispered Natania.
“I was able to escape from the meeting with the earl, but…” Simon whispered back.
Neither Natania nor Simon were reaching for the tea; they had taken poses that seemed to be trying to say, ‘We aren’t guests, we’re guards.’ They only knew the most basic manners such as not slurping your tea audibly, so they didn’t want to take part in the tea party.
“Being a familiar is convenient at times like these. We don’t have to care about the complicated manners,” said Kachia as she ate one of the baked desserts.
Fang barked in agreement as he chewed on a lump of meat that the servants had prepared for him.
The rat sisters were squeaking happily as they chewed on the baked snacks that Vandalieu was handing them one after another.
Seeing Vandalieu and his companions’ behavior, Takkard and the servants’ tension loosened. Given the way they were acting, it seemed that they considered any hostility from Takkard and his house to be unlikely.
A certain amount of tension was necessary, and although various things would change depending on the results of the discussion that would follow, perhaps Vandalieu and his companions were not expecting a battle to break out and decide the fate of the Alcrem Duchy today.
The color of Takkard’s face improved, just a little.
“By the way, Lord Duke, it seems that there is someone on the villa grounds who is on the verge of death,” Vandalieu said suddenly. “Are you aware of this? I could treat them, if you wish.”
Hearing these words, Takkard’s face turned pale once more.