It was a little after lunch.
Today, Riley decided to read instead of taking a nap. He was sitting on the garden’s bench and flipping pages.
Next to Riley was Ian who held a tea pot to tend to Riley’s tea cup.
Riley was turning yet another page of the book, but he quietly shifted his eyes toward Ian after hearing his voice.
“Have you heard?”
It was a very general question.
Not having any clue as to what Ian was talking about, Riley directed his eyes back on chasing after the words in the book.
The book he was currently reading was about magic. It was one of the few that was in the library that was about magic.
It was a fiction titled ‘The Legend of a Certain Mage.’ Half of it was true and the other half was fiction. With those two mixed together, it made a perfect book to pass time away.
It also occasionally had explanation about magic, so it was helping Riley on magic lessons. He would have given the book a high score if it wasn’t for the part about a ‘mage swordsman’ that seemed to be forced into the story just to include a story related to swords.
“During yesterday evening…”
Riley asked back as he flipped the page. Ian continued,
“Nainiae obliterated the training dummy. She cut it in half clean in a single strike.”
A single strike.
The four key words made Riley’s ears rise up.
It was certain that what Ian was talking about was far more interesting than the book he was reading.
Riley took his eyes off the words and murmured.
Nainiae was a fragile looking girl. She looked like she could collapse to the side if you lightly bumped into her.
‘Where was she hiding such a strength all this time?’
“She did it to Iphelleta Hause’s training dummy? In a single strike?”
Riley had the tea cup under the shadow. It had become cooler, and it was at the right temperature for drinking. Riley put his hand toward the cup and took a sip as he complimented Nainiae,
“Wow, that’s not bad, right? Could it be that she has a hidden talent that we didn’t expect?”
“You think so too, right?”
It could be that she was talented at swords.
It could be just that she used a trick with her magic.
It could also be that she was just lucky.
Regardless… The fact remained that she cut the Iphelleta House’s training dummy in half with her very first sword strike. It was something worthy of a praise.
“Maybe she could become a mage swordswoman like the main character from the book I’m reading right now. Wow… To think my servant is a mage swordswoman… That’s cool, right?”
Riley cracked a smile as he mumbled.
Ian, who was standing next to Riley, smiled widely and said,
“Yes. By the way…”
Unlike his smiling face, his voice was serious.
Having heard his voice, Riley turned his head and looked at Ian.
“The training dummy that she struck was a training dummy, but…”
Noticing something strange in how Ian was going about it, Riley furrowed his brows.
Thinking Riley might change the subject, Ian quickly continued.
“That training dummy was a brand new one except that ‘a certain someone’ struck it once a few weeks ago for fun and then said ‘I’m sick of it’ as he left.”
“No matter how talented Nainiae may be… She has difficulties with her hand. How do you think she managed to cut it down so cleanly?”
Ian mumbled as he brushed his beard.
How he had a question mark added to the end of the sentence seemed like he would mumble one over and over unless Riley responded.
“Well. I heard she had a perfect form because she learned from Sera. Even so…”
Ian’s gaze moved toward Riley.
Riley was reading, but as if he felt awkward because of Ian’s gaze, Riley started to scratch the back of his head.
“Young master, by chance, do you know anything about this?”
“…I’m not sure?”
After a brief moment of silence, Riley asked back as he turned a page.
He sounded like there was nothing wrong, but it was of course just an act.
Having served young master for a long time, Ian could tell.
“Could it be that she used magic?”
“Sera doesn’t know much about magic. Maybe that rascal was sneaky about it and tricked her.”
Riley mumbled as he drank tea. The tone of his voice sounded like he felt he couldn’t let this conversation continue on.
“Um. As the master, I can’t just sit and let my servant going about things in the wrong way. Don’t worry, Ian. I’ll scold her. That rascal. Where is she?”
Unlike what he was saying, Riley was still looking at his book. It was not being closed.
Having noticed all this, Ian sighed heavily enough to make the ground sink and poured more tea into the tea cup.
It was around when the sound of the tea being poured into the cup stopped.
“…Oh my? Young Master Riley?”
A clear voice could be heard from the back.
Ian was pouring tea, but Ian’s gaze turned toward the direction of the voice on its own.
“This is unexpected? Were you reading today instead of taking a nap?”
The woman appeared to be wearing a pretty tall pair of high heel shoes, but she managed to walk across the grass. It was quite impressive that she managed.
Annabelle Mogared, Ryan’s fiancée, made an entrance. Ian briefly lowered his head to pay his respect and hardened his face.
It was because he couldn’t show any strange expression to a daughter of a marquis family.
“Since you can’t hold a sword, if it is going to be something like reading, that’s not bad. It looks a lot better than you taking a nap.”
Annabelle quietly looked down as she talked to Riley. It was to check what he was reading.
After having glanced through the content of the book’s open pages, she inquired quietly,
“Um? Magic? Magic? Young master. You are not serious about it, right?”
Annabelle was ridiculing Riley directly to his face.
Watching this, Ian had veins popping out on his forehead.
Currently, all he could manage to do was holding back his mouth that was itching. That was the limit of his patience.
“Magic in Iphelleta House? Ahhaha! You are reading it because you enjoy reading books, right?”
‘You have no idea about our young master’s true skills, yet… You have no idea about our young master’s true power, yet…’
Ian chewed on the words in his mind. His shoulders started to flinch.
It looked like a time bomb that was about to go off.
“I heard you even received a medal of honor from the Solia Castle. From what I heard, you apprehended Astroa with another mage. Is that why you became interested in magic?”
Riley was not showing any response to Annabelle’s voice.
Instead, he only flipped the page as he made the page flip noise.
“Even magic will take talent, don’t you think? How should I say this… It seems a little hard for you? Well, either way, I don’t think you will be getting a good result from it.”
Sword or magic, regardless of which one it was, it would be hard for Riley to get a good result.
Annabelle was saying that.
She was obviously patronizing Riley. Having heard what she said, Ian started to furrow his eyebrows. He was not able to take it anymore.
His mouth itched.
He wanted to say something.
‘Young master, I think I should just say it! If this keeps up, I’ll die from frustration!’
Ian felt like his throat was completely blocked.
Ian felt a strong urge to go shout it out loud to the entire town about Riley’s true power right now. He wetted the inside of his mouth. Ian was about to say something.
Riley suddenly broke into a laughter.
The way he was beating on the table that he had his book on seemed like it was definitely not an act.
“This is such a nonsense. If Andal saw it, he would be flipped and rolling on the ground! Kikic!”
It seemed that he found a funny part in the book.
Riley had the corners of his mouth slightly tilted up.
Noticing this, Ian thought Riley must have not realize the situation yet. Ian slightly bent his upper body and whispered to Riley.
‘Did he not hear anything because he was so focused on the book?’
Riley was still laughing as he looked at the book.
Noticing this, Ian raised his voice a little and called him.
“Excuse me, young master?”
“Um? What? If it is about the training dummy, I’ll talk to Nainiae later…”
“You have a guest. A guest.”
Annabelle had veins popping out on her forehead because of the conversation that went on in front of her that completely ignored her.
Fortunately for her, because of her makeup, it was not noticeable.
Having heard what Ian said, Riley finally turned his head and looked at Annabelle.
Their eyes met, and it was Annabelle that greeted Riley first.
“Ah, how do you do? Young Master Riley?”
This was the second time she greeted Riley.
In order to straighten her crumpled pride, Annabelle flinched her facial muscles several times. She tilted her head to the side and showed a refreshing smile.
Those with keen eyes would have figured out that her smile was a forced one.
Riley gave a hollow stare at her face for a moment.
Breaking the silence, he simply answered,
Riley said ‘yeah’ as if he was responding to a servant. He turned to look at Ian and quietly asked,
“…Who is this?”
His bent eyebrow was suggesting a question mark.
The look in his eyes seem to be indicating that he really didn’t have any idea who this woman was.
Ian whispered to Riley as he broke in cold sweat,
“It’s Miss Annabelle.”
“Anna what again?”
It looked like he was trying to say things in a lower voice so Annabelle could not hear it, but their voices were leaking out.
The voices that she could hear were wrecking her pride. Annabelle’s fingers started to twitch.
If there was anything that she could grab, it would have been torn to pieces by her artificial nails.
“She is Miss Annabelle! Young Master Ryan’s…”
It looked like they could finally continue their conversation.
As if he finally realized it, he said ‘Ah’ in a long stretch. Riley still had a question mark above his head. He asked Ian,
“Is she my big brother’s maid?”
It was still in a low voice, but Annabelle could her it just the same.
It was not certain if Riley knew it or not.
Riley kept on asking more questions to Ian.
“By the way, Ian. Even if she is my big brother’s maid, you have no reason to use such respectful language toward her. Don’t you think?”
“N-No, young master… Miss Annabelle is not a maid…”
“…That’s enough, Ian!”
Having heard a woman’s voice that sounded angry, Riley turned his head toward the direction of the voice and tilted his head to the sides.
“Yes. If that’s your wish… Yes! I understand!”
“Hey. You are just a maid. Why are your lips so light…”
Annabelle turned around before Riley could finish his sentence.
She took firm steps back across the garden toward the mansion. Watching her back, Riley shrugged and directed his gaze back to the book.
Riley was going to indulge in the book again, but he felt the heat from Ian’s gaze. Riley complained as if he was wronged.
“Seriously. I’m telling you. I really don’t know that person?”
The look on Riley’s face seem to be saying, ‘I don’t know her, so what am I supposed to do?’
Ian had a confused look on his face. He sighed heavily enough to sink the ground and started to rub his face with both of his palms.
It was inside the mansion.
Nainiae just finished dishwashing, the very last job for the day. She was heading toward the training arena to work on swordsmanship training with Sera, but she saw Annabelle walking toward this way from the other side.
“How dare he… How dare he…”
It looked like something had happened.
She was breathing hard as she walked this way. Nainiae noticed Annabelle and pulled her chin a little as she looked at the direction that Annabelle came from.
‘It looks like she is coming from the garden… Did she run into our young master?’
It was a straight corridor, so Annabelle, who was quickly walking through it, found Nainiae who was standing on the other side with her head lowered. Annabelle furrowed her brows.
When their eyes met, Nainiae lowered her head first and paid her respect.
After that… It didn’t really lead to a conversation.
Annabelle was thinking about making a fool out of Nainiae, Riley’s servant, but she soon snorted and started to walk again.
“He dared to ignore me? Just watch. I’ll make him regret it. How could… How could a Lazy Sword dare to…”
Annabelle mumbled as she walked past Nainiae.
With the voice now behind her, Nainiae lifted her head. Nainiae narrowed her eye as she looked at the back of Annabelle walking away.
Judging from the situation, it looked like it could only lead to a trouble for Riley. It didn’t look like anything good would come of this for Riley.
“…Nainiae. I kept you waiting, didn’t I?”
It was when Nainiae was steadily staring at Annabelle’s back.
Sera, who went off the tangent and had gone somewhere else for a moment, rushed back and tapped Nainiae on her shoulder.
Sera was standing right next to Nainiae. When she couldn’t hear any response, Sera checked the look on Nainiae’s face behind hand and tilted her head to the sides.
“Miss Sera. Could you please wait in the training arena?”
Nainiae just finished the dishes, the last work for the day.
Nainiae agonized over how she was going to start explaining. Nainiae continued,
“Actually, I don’t think I completely wiped off the stain on the very last dish that I washed. I think I should go check it.”