Morning, at Count Stein’s office.
“So, Riley had a go with the sword?”
Ian reported to Stein what had happened yesterday.
Yesterday, Riley had gone to the training grounds after watching his mother collapse.
Ian added that the lazy atmosphere that usually surrounded Riley had vanished for a moment.
“Well he did have a go, but...”
Although it was good news that the lazy child displayed potential to some extent, there was an additional piece of information that would counteract the former, with room to spare.
“He lost interest immediately.”
“I assume he was disappointed with the power of his swing.”
That meant that his swordsmanship was beyond pathetic.
Stein who had been tapping on his desk nodded.
“Alright. You may leave.”
“Master, perhaps you should give...”
“I’m already having a headache with the rat that infiltrated the manor. I had already surmised that Riley would only amount to that. There is no reason to teach the swordsmanship of the Iphelleta House to someone who lacks any form of motivation. I’m sure my ancestors would think the same.”
After finishing his words, Stein flicked his hand to shoo Ian away.
Ian turned to leave with his head lowered ruefully.
Riley managed to find the perfect angle to lie down on his preferred apple tree.
This was the sort of angle he found only once a fortnight.
If he were to move now, it would be lost for the rest of the day.
Therefore, Riley would not move from where he was.
“I wonder if that will fall anytime soon.”
He had been licking his lips while staring at the apple which had been dangling on the tree.
For a while now, he had been waiting for it to fall on its own.
Perhaps by the wind,
Perhaps due to a worm,
Or perhaps a bird would land on it.
He was waiting in anticipation for the single apple directly above his head to fall to him.
Were he to stand and take it himself, he would be forced to relinquish his perfect position.
“Ha. Young master...”
Riley, who had been counting the number of leaves around the apple, turned his attention away.
The words that came from behind were equivalent to sighs of dismay.
Naturally, the man who spoke those words was a dejected Ian.
“What’s up? You seem pretty down.”
Riley shifted his eyes to glance at Ian.
“Ah! I see! Is it raining today? Your back and knees must be aching.”
Ian began to give Riley a glare.
Riley scratched his head and looked up at the sky.
The sky was blue, with not a cloud in sight.
“Was I wrong?”
Ian suddenly shouted at Riley.
“Geez, you surprised me...”
Riley almost flinched out of his perfect position.
“Will you really give up after that?”
“What about it?”
Riley replied as if asking what the problem was.
Ian continued speaking with his hands curled into fists.
“I will give you praise for finding those seeds for Lady Iris; she has recovered considerably thanks to them!”
They were no ordinary seeds.
Riley had placed special enchantment on the seeds.
“But, to give up after only one swing! That’s... That’s....!”
Ian’s words began to falter.
As the first man to have had seen Riley’s potential, he was also the one to be the most devastated by his lack of motivation.
He wondered if his lifespan had shortened from watching so much potential wither away. Or perhaps it had given him cancer.
“Well, if I can’t win with a sword, I’ll just become a mage. I like reading better anyway.”
At least cancer could be cured, with some luck.
Ian screamed in frustration.
“What, you think becoming a mage is...”
Is that easy?!
Just when he was about to ask, Riley turned his gaze elsewhere.
It was directed above him, between the leaves of the apple tree.
“What are you looking at?”
“I thought if I became a mage, I could take that apple without standing...”
Riley shut his mouth.
Overwhelmed by Ian, Riley muttered after building up his courage.
“...Your shouting is hurting my ears.”
“Don’t change the subject. This time, I’ll surely change your...”
“Hm? Wait Ian! Look, over there! Is that the glint of a blade?”
“What are you on...”
Ian told himself that he would call Lady Iris as reinforcements if Riley was misleading him again, and then he looked up.
But what was this?
Just as Riley had said, a blade could be seen within the leaves.
It was not a long sword or a double edged sword like the ones used in the House.
It was a dagger.
One without a sheath.
Ian was quite interested by the peculiar purple grip it had, and jumped toward it.
As he landed on the branches, he carefully took the dagger out from the tree.
‘It seems familiar.’
It was a dagger with a crescent-shaped blade.
Ian widened his eyes in realization.
‘Wait... Is this...?’
The shape of the blade would fit perfectly in the sheath that was currently in Stein’s office.
“What? What’s going on? Show me as well.”
Riley did not want to move, but he was curious, too.
Therefore, he took the option of ordering Ian.
Ian dropped next to Riley and handed the dagger to him.
“I believe this belonged to the dead man we found yesterday.”
“Huh? How do you know?”
“The shape is identical to the sheath he had. We should be able to find out soon.”
Ian took the dagger back from Riley.
“Then I shall go to see Master Stein.”
“Huh? Alright then.”
Riley nodded in agreement as Ian spoke with a serious face.
He got to skip out on all the nagging, and there was nothing he was missing out on.
As Ian left in a hurry, Riley began to tap the tree with his foot.
Riley talked to himself.
Although his eyes still looked as lazy as ever, the atmosphere around him changed completely.
“How are they going to react?”
Riley closed his eyes and spread his senses far and wide across the mansion, keeping his own presence concealed.
“Number 3 is dead?”
Inside a dark room.
The candle suspended from the ceiling burned faintly.
This was the hideout from which the hooded man originated.
“How did he die?”
A man who was dressed differently from the other hooded men asked for a report.
As expected of an experienced assassin, the reply came in a dry manner.
“We have no idea.”
It would mean that death of No.3 was not a suicide.
“And the body?”
He bit his lip and asked another question.
“It is being held in the Iphelleta House.”
The situation was bad.
It had happened in the famous Iphelleta House.
If any evidence was found from the body, not just the hideout but the lives of everyone in that room would be in danger.
“Orelly’s in a bad position.”
He scratched his beard as he thought about his daughter.
“What will you do?”
As the hooded man asked, the man stood up from his chair.
“I will go.”
“Well, we mustn’t be found out. We leave this evening. Make preparations for a stealth mission.”
“As you wish.”
The hooded man bowed and disappeared.
Standing alone in the room, the man grabbed a mask from the table, and placed it in his pocket.
“It’s been a while since I last paid a visit to my son-in-law.”