It was during the evening at the Iphelleta House.
Things no different from the usual continued.
The scenery of maids taking their shifts to carry out their tasks inside the mansion, servants using their break time to occasionally swing swords in the dueling arena, the eldest and second sons exchanging words with each other about swords, or Stein, the master of the House, taking care of simple paperwork inside the office…
Everything was as usual.
At least that was the case until Stein, who was sitting inside the office, found a document with an unexpected content.
Instead of calling it a paperwork, it was more appropriate to call it a summarized newspaper.
On the top of the newspaper, in gigantic letters, there was the following question written:
‘Last Night, What Happened In Solia?’
With his youngest son currently visiting Solia, it obviously drew Stein’s attention.
[Last night, horrible crates were discovered in Right Solia’s Magic Tower. The crates contained mass amount of grass with psychedelic properties. The one that had been hiding these was revealed to be Astroa, the grand mage of Seven Circles magic who was famous for being the leader of the Magic Tower, and the citizens and the nobilities are not able to recover from the shock from finding out about the incident.]
Grass with psychedelic properties.
Stein furrowed his brows as he read that particular part of the news. He thought about the old butler that he sent with Riley.
Because Stein knew very well how much that butler hated, despised and was disgusted by that grass, he started to worry that his youngest son may have gotten swept into this incident.
[Also… A young master from a count’s House, who reported the outlawed grass hidden in the Magic Tower and also provided big assistance in neutralizing Astroa and search of the Magic Tower’s basement, received a medal of honor from the prince Daniel today.]
Wondering what this was about, Stein started to wiggle his eyebrows. He continued reading what the newspaper said below, which read,
[From a House that holds an extraordinary position in the world of swordsmanship in Solia, from the famous Finn Iphelleta House, the third-born Young Master…]
Stein was diligently reading the newspaper, but he smashed the desk while holding the paper in his hand.
He still could not believe what he just saw. With a vacant stare, he just kept on blinking his eyes for a moment, and then he raised the newspaper again.
[…Riley, he is the hero in these incidents. Afterwards, a girl, who had been abandoned by the Magic Tower and also accomplished quite a commendable deed in efforts of apprehending Astroa by using her magic…]
Immediately, having confirmed Riley’s name in the newspaper, Stein abruptly stood up from the chair. He shouted,
Stein’s loud voice calling for a servant was echoing in the mansion.
It was at Solia Castle.
After roughly taking care of the business at the restroom, Riley returned to the stadium, but he asked Ian as he stared at the medal of honor that was placed in his palm,
It’s not like he was a little girl, yet Ian had burst into tears. It was apparent that Ian was not able to answer Riley in the current state.
“…Sera, what’s this?”
So, Riley turned his head and asked Sera.
“It’s a medal of honor bestowed to you by Solia Castle. Because you suddenly left in middle of the prince Daniel’s speech, our lady received it for you.”
“Anyway, where were you?”
Sera explained, and Iris asked.
Riley, who had the answer already prepared, replied with a smile,
“Ah, I just went to the restroom for a bit…”
Having threatened the priestess at the restroom, Riley returned to the group for now.
“I-I… I never knew that you were working so hard in places we could not see…”
Hearing the sound of someone sniffing up the runny nose mixed in with tears, the gazes of the three, including Riley, turned toward the man.
The one crying was not even a little kid. It was the old butler.
“What the, this medal of honor… This is for reporting to Solia Castle, isn’t it? Then shouldn’t Ian be the one getting it? Why are they giving it to me?”
Not convinced, Riley asked while fiddling with the medal.
“That’s why the lady asked if they are really giving it to you, not Ian. When she asked, the prince said that this is correct. He said the medal is being given to the young master for his great exploits.”
The way Sera was scratching her cheek as she looked with gleaming eyes was not too different from how Ian was doing.
It appeared that even Sera was proud inside that the young master who she is serving had received such a reward of recognition.
“That young master is the one?”
“Yes, I heard he is the young master who received the medal of honor.”
“Have you heard? It seems he is from the Iphelleta House.”
“As expected, I thought there was something about him.”
“You said he is the youngest, right? He is different from the rumors.”
Even now, among the nobilities leaving the castle, there were people whispering to each other as they looked at Riley.
They were somehow tickling Riley’s ears.
‘Ha, in a way…she did practice my advice down to the letter.’
Riley did advise her to avoid situations where it would bring the attentions to her and also to take a step back and watch.
Riley, the one who had given Nainiae such advice, gave out a hollow sigh.
In a way, all she did was properly carrying out Riley’s advice.
‘But I don’t regret what I have done.’
‘Even if you died right there by being choked to death?’
‘In the end, I haven’t done anything and that’s the truth, so…’
When Riley asked Nainiae, she responded like that.
Riley, who was thinking about the conversation with Nainiae, turned his head as he heard his mother’s voice.
Iris was gently smiling at Riley.
“Why don’t you just take it?”
“I’m talking about the medal of honor.”
“Wouldn’t your father be happy about it as well?”
Riley hesitated for a moment, and as if he understood his mother’s words, he nodded and grabbed the medal placed on his hand.
“Yes. I understand. I’ll take it for now.”
He did so because he figured it was not a bad idea to be nice to his mother this way.
According to Priesia, they didn’t tell anyone about his skills. Also, to Nainiae, who was the biggest problem for him, he explained clearly and politely (?), so others would just think that Riley had a pretty good luck that led to his accomplishments.
“Well then, shall we start heading back as well?”
There was supposed to be a festival the day after the winner of the swordsmanship tournament was decided. If it was going to be as Sera explained before, then the festival would also be the time when the city would be at its busiest with the crowds going about their businesses enjoying their time in the festivities.
“Right about now, it is probably quite loud over at the Main Plaza with the festival already started.”
As Sera stepped forward to lead the way, Ian and Iris followed her.
“If the schedule doesn’t change a lot, as the closing ceremony, we may be able to see fireworks tomorrow night… Young master?”
Sera was going off about how beautiful the fireworks were when she saw them every year during the tournaments, and she slowly turned her head.
At the same time, also with question marks on their faces, Ian and Iris turned their heads and looked at Riley. It was because Riley was standing still there.
“Hey, I didn’t tell you this sooner, so I’m sorry about that, but there is something I must tell you.”
After making an apology out of the blue, Riley made a hand gesture toward a corner of the stadium. It was a gesture calling for someone to come over.
Soon, a girl, who was hiding at the corner on her knees, stood up and walked toward where Riley was.
“Riley, who is that child?”
“Yes mother, that is…um…”
As Iris noticed the girl, she looked at Riley and asked. He answered,
“I picked her up at the restroom.”
Nainiae’s appearance could not be expressed in a single sentence.
She was a girl whose white, high-class dress and her pale white skin, which looked as if she was someone with an illness, were making quite an impression.
To point out a problem, it was the fact that those were all of her appearance’s nice qualities. Excluding them, all that could be seen in her appearance were drawbacks.
“That child…could it be that she can’t see with one of her eyes?”
“It appears to be the case.”
Because it was awkward, with her eyes narrowed, Sera asked Ian and Iris who were walking in front of her in a row as she looked at Nainiae.
“Is that a burn mark? What do you think happened to her face?”
“Why are her fingers like that? The length of her middle and pinky fingers are a little odd, don’t you think?”
Mumbling and mumbling, Sera was mumbling as she stared at Nainiae, but her shoulders flinched from Ian’s voice.
“Regardless, she is the child that the young master said he would like to take care of as a servant… So it is not going to look good to mumble about her from the back. You are a smart girl, so you understand what I’m trying to tell you, right?”
Hearing Ian’s advice, Sera lowered her head and fidgeted. She felt he hit the heart of the matter.
“Sera, you need to fix that habit of yours.”
Sera was about to say that she is reflecting on her wrongdoing, but she flinched as she looked at Ian’s profile.
“Well, about the fact that the young master’s reason for taking her in is about her being a mage, it is a little…and the fact that she will be teaching magic to our young master is really just a little unsettling to me, but…”
Sera flinched because the old man’s facial muscles were twitching violently, exuding deadly aura.
It was to the point that people, who just passed by him and took a glance at his face, were whispering to guards that the old man looked like he might do something troubling right now.
“E-Excuse me, Sir Ian…”
Hearing Sera’s voice calling for him, Ian turned his head and looked at Sera.
“What is it?”
Looking at his face directly was even more terrifying, and that made Sera’s shoulders to shrivel, but she continued with a smile,
“Your face…it is scary.”
Having heard Sera’s words, Ian did a loud fake cough and finally straightened his expression.
It appeared he was not aware of the expression on his face.
“Haah, anyhow…no matter what we say, it looks like the young master won’t change his mind about this decision, so all we can do now is just watch and see how it goes.”
“Still, she is a girl too just like you, so Sera, you should be more mindful and be sure that the child… Um?”
Right behind the three in the front, which included Riley, Ian was following the group from the back, but he stopped talking and tilted his head to the side.
It was because, in front of them, he could feel the presence of many people.
“Uh? What is that?”
“They are people from Solia’s Holy Temple, aren’t they?”
“Wow, even the archbishop came.” “What could this be about? Why are they in a large group like that?”
From the voices coming from the Main Plaza’s direction, Ian realized that the presence of many people that he felt was coming from the Holy Temple’s people.
At the same time, a thought crossed his mind.
‘The Holy Temple probably don’t have anything to do with the swordsmanship tournament. If they came all the way here to the Main Plaza in a group like this… The reason for it, it wouldn’t be…”
Ian was making conjectures without knowing that the priestess came by to the restroom that Riley was hiding in during today’s event.
He was thinking about the reason why there are people from Solia’s Holy Temple gathered along the path that Riley was walking at the Main Plaza now.
Before Ian could finish his thoughts, a dignified voice could be heard.
“Excuse me, Sir Ian, this voice…”
Although Ian didn’t recognize it, Sera knew to whom the voice belonged to.
It was a beautiful voice like a smoothly polished pearl rolling on a golden plate. She also knew that her appearance was even more blindingly beautiful than her voice.
“Lady Priesia? What brings you here?”
Of the three, Riley, Sera and Iris, who had to stop walking because of the people from the temple blocking their path, Iris, the eldest of the three, stepped forward and inquired.
Priesia omitted the response to Iris’s question. Instead, she took a step forward and looked at Riley. Riley was also steadily staring at Priesia, and at that moment, Nainiae took a step forward and narrowed her eyes.
A sense of wariness could be seen in her gaze. It was the look of a servant who stepped forward with intention to take care of a trouble before her master had to.
Riley extended his arm to grab Nainiae’s shoulder and stopped her.
As if she was trying to ask why he was stopping her, Nainiae turned her head toward Riley and looked at him with a question mark on her face.
Once she met Riley’s eyes, as if she understood the reason, Nainiae politely lowered her head and slowly stepped back to stand behind Riley.