- So, Riley?
Iris smiled from the other side of the mirror and called Riley. Riley, who had a stiff look on his face, flinched his shoulders.
That pretty smile of hers was definitely carrying fury.
Riley was certain of it.
- There must be a reason why you contacted so late, right?
Unlike her smiling face, her voice sounded deadly. Riley gulped big time and put up a forced smile on his face. He said,
“A… About that…”
- You must have a reasonable explanation, right?
“Ah, yes! Of course! About that, about that…”
Riley smiled like a fool. He kept on blurring the end of the sentence. Iris, with a smile on her face, tilted her head side to side.
- Why don’t you explain it to me?
It could be that Riley didn’t know what to say. Riley’s smiling face petrified.
- Oh? Did this thing freeze? Nainiae?
“Yes! Lady Iris!”
- Is this thing still working?
“Yes! Of course!”
Riley glared at back of Nainiae’s head.
With his gaze, he was saying, ‘hey, after all those books you have read, how could you be so dense?’ Riley said,
“About that, there were a few things that happened.”
- A few things?
“Yes! It would be a bit disappointing to explain it through this, so I’ll explain it all when we return. I want to do justice to the explanation by explaining them all in person.”
Riley brought up his plan for explaining it when he returned, which was about two weeks in traveling time. With his shoulder, Riley wiped off the sweat that was flowing on his cheek and smiled like a fool.
From beyond the mirror, they could hear Iris sighing.
It seemed she was very worried.
- Nothing bad happened, right?
“Yes, Lady Iris. I can guarantee it.”
Nainiae added promptly after Riley responded.
It seemed Iris was relieved. She relaxed her face.
- Since Nainiae said so, I’m relieved.
Riley, who was flinching on every word his mother spoke, calmed his shaking heart and asked about her.
“How about you, Mother? Nothing happened, right?”
- I’m fine, of course. I’m recovering from my illness too.
“That’s great. How about the mansion?”
- Other than you not being here, it is the same.
Iris turned her head lightly to look to the side. She corrected herself on the words she just spoke.
- Although Ian doesn’t seem to be well.
“I was expecting that.”
Having heard what his mother said, Riley shrugged as if he figured that was going to happen. At that moment, someone’s cry could be heard.
- Young masterrrrrrrr!
Riley simply ignored the cry and looked at the mirror with a bright face.
“Anyway, we will be coming back to Solia soon. We will contact you again before we head out, so please keep the mirror in a safe place.”
“Also… I’m sorry.”
“I’m sorry I didn’t contact you until now.”
Riley apologized, and Iris smiled proudly.
- Huhu. If you know that, then it is all right. You know what to do after making an apology, right?
“Not repeating the same thing again.”
- That’s right.
Iris was about to wave her hand to say that Riley can hang up now. At that moment, Sera asked from the side,
- Ah, Lady Iris! Please wait!
- Young Master, before you hang up, can you please put Nainiae…
This time, Nainiae’s shoulders flinched.
He figured what was about to come. Riley smiled big and handed the mirror to Nainiae.
Nainiae received the mirror. She looked like an animal going to a slaughter house. With her shoulders shriveled completely, she looked beyond the mirror.
“Yes, Ms. Sera.”
To be respectful, Nainiae took a step away from Riley and responded quietly.
- Aren’t you supposed to do your job right?
As expected, the scolding started. Nainiae, on brink of tears, bit her lips.
- Even if Young Master Riley forgot, still…
It seemed that Sera figured out Nainiae also forgot about contacting the mansion.
It seemed Riley was feeling uncomfortable hearing what Sera was saying. It was stabbing him in his conscious. Riley flinched big.
- Nainiae, you should have kept your mind sharp and contacted us!
“… I’m sorry.”
- Seriously… Young Master Riley went there for vacation. It’s not like you went there on vacation, right?
Nainiae turned the body so the pile of books that she read didn’t come into Sera’s view. Having heard Sera’s scolding that was piercing through her chest, Nainiae repeatedly said ‘I’m sorry.” She lowered her head toward the mirror.
- Nainiae! Are you listening?
“I… I’m sorry.”
In light of Sera’s scolding, Nainiae was ashamed, and she couldn’t say anything. Nainiae lowered her head. Someone’s voice, an old man in his dying breath, could be heard.
- I… I’m disappointed, Nainiae… When you return… be prepared… Kurrrk?! My backkkkkk!
- Ugh, Mr. Ian! Please be still and lie down!
- K… Kuuuk… Why should I get scolded…
Not just Nainiae, but Ian beyond the mirror was getting scolded. Riley, who was sitting in a sofa and listening in on the conversation, peeked a smile.
- Anyway, Nainiae, stay sharp, all right?
It looked like Sera was not done. She was pouring advice like a waterfall. Nainiae kept on lowering her head toward the hand mirror.
“Yes, yes… I’m ashamed. I’ll reflect on this.”
They lost track on the number of times Nainiae responded to this.
Sera’s voice was relatively calm now.
- So, did you go see the waterfall pathway? How about the firework?
After scolding, Nainiae was asked about the pretty things to see in Rainfield.
Nainiae took a moment of pause and responded with a satisfied smile.
“Yes, I saw them.”
- How were they?
“To put it in a word…”
Nainiae was certain.
That day, the scene that she saw from the top of the clock tower, the waterfall pathway firework was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen in her eighteen years of life.
* * *
After saying that they will be returning to Solia soon, Nainiae disconnected the gate magic. Exhausted, Nainiae leaned on the wall and sighed.
“Is it over?”
Looking at exhausted Nainiae, Riley peeked a smile. He showed the empty cup and tapped on his wrist.
“In that case, get me a refill.”
“Ah, I’ll right away.”
Nainiae quickly came next to Riley and used magic and warmed up the tea pot. Nainiae told Riley what Sera said at the very end.
“Young Master, Ms. Sera said… Solia Temple was looking for you.”
Nainiae brought heated up tea pot, and Riley leaned his tea cup as he tilted his head side to side.
“From the temple?”
Nainiae carefully poured the tea to Riley’s cup. Nainiae continued as if there was more.
“Yes. Having heard that you went to Rainfield… the Archbishop Rebethra started heading to Rainfield.”
Riley was about to drink the tea. However, having heard that, he opened one of his eyes big and looked at Nainiae.
“All the way to Rainfield?”
“Yes. I heard that he was traveling on a carriage… It’s about time he will be arriving at the Rainfield, so Sera said it would be good to let you know.”
“Ugh… on a carriage?”
Riley was finding all this to be ridiculous. Right at that moment, he could hear approximately three people outside.
“Ah, could it be?”
Nainiae mumbled as she wondered if it could be Rebethra. She looked out the window to see the front of the hotel.
“Is it here?”
The hotel’s door opened with a squeaking noise. A boy wearing a raincoat entered the place while holding a spear on his shoulder.
Riley vacantly opened his mouth as he looked at the three that suddenly came to visit him. Riley remembered the three. They were the people that he ran into before arriving at Rainfield.
“Oh, he is here.”
It was the Lightning Boulder mercenaries.
Of them all, the one standing in the front, a smaller framed boy, Basilisk, found Riley in the hotel’s first floor, sitting on a sofa. Basilisk opened his eyes wide.
“Young Master, how do you do?”
Basilisk walked toward Riley. He raised his hand, the one that wasn’t holding the spear, and greeted Riley. It seemed he was glad to see Riley.
“I think I didn’t say hello to you, so…”
Right after that, Basilisk also greeted the owner of the hotel. Basilisk casually walked toward Riley and set next to him.
“Should I get you some tea?”
“Ah, Ms. Nainiae, I’ll be fine. I’ll be drinking something else.”
It seemed like Basilisk came to the hotel as a customer. Nainiae nodded and stepped back.
“Can I have a cold one here?”
Basilisk shouted toward the kitchen and looked at Riley.
Riley couldn’t be certain about Basilisk’s reason for coming here. However, judging from his looks, it seemed Basilisk didn’t have any ill intent.
“You were still here?”
Riley took a sip of tea and asked. Basilisk, with a bitter look on his face, responded.
“To us, Mr. Reitri was like our lifeline… Finding a new client who is as good as him is turning out to be difficult. I feel like I’m still tied to him. So… we thought about it hard and…”
After the dark mage incident, Basilisk’s group became unemployed after Reitri left Rainfield. Basilisk explained it all to Riley and looked at him steadily.
Noticing that their commander was not able to continue, Rorona, the archer, spoke for him.
“Please hire us.”
Riley narrowed his eyes and asked back.
“Why should we?”
“If hiring us is not quite to your liking, then let us accompany you at least. Please.”
Rorona lowered her head and pleaded.
Confused, Riley looked at the three people and looked at Nainiae who was standing on the side.
She looked just as confused. She only shook her head left and right.
“You said we need to watch our mouths, right? In that case, won’t it be more convenient for you to have us be at your side so you can watch us?”
To convince Riley, Isen asked with a serious face. Having heard it, Riley cringed.
“Are you blackmailing me?”
The mood took a sudden, downward turn. Having realized his mistake, Isen blurred the end of his sentence.
“No, we are not blackmailing…”
If keeping their mouths shut was the goal, killing them all without anyone knowing like Tess merchant group, unknown even to rats or birds, was a way to go about it.
“Don’t pester me.”
To Riley, it was certain that they were pestering him. Riley narrowed his eyes. He was about to warn them again, but he felt another presence outside the hotel.
“… Young Master.”
Nainiae saw who just walked into the hotel and called Riley quietly.
Having heard Nainiae, Riley looked toward the entrance and cringed his face even more.
‘Ah, that guy.’
The old man in white clothing was the kind of man that was hard to see in a place like Rainfield which didn’t have a holy temple.
“Ah, Young Master Riley… You were here! Haha! I asked around and barely managed to find you.”
It was Rebethra, the Archbishop of Solia Temple.
With him, an uninvited guest, making an entrance, not just Riley, but even Basilisk cringed.
“Oldman, you appear to be someone from a holy temple… What business do you have in Rainfield which doesn’t have any?”
Basilisk had his arm resting on top of the back support of the chair. In a thuggish pose, Basilisk stared at Rebethra and asked.
“Ahah, you already had a guest. I should have introduced myself first. My apologies.”
Despite Basilisk’s violent attitude, Rebethra shrugged his shoulders, smiled and offered a handshake.
“Hello. I’m Rebethra, the Archbishop from Solia’s Holy Temple. I’m here to see Young Master Riley, but… Is there a problem?”
With an awkward face, Basilisk accepted the handshake. Basilisk wiggled his eyebrows and answered in an annoyed tone,
“What a coincidence. I’m here for the same reason.”
It seemed Rebethra was feeling awkward about it. With his hand retrieved, Rebethra looked toward Riley and lowered his head.
“Have you had a good vacation?”
Riley was seeing through the man’s question. Riley didn’t like it, so he responded indirectly.
“It would have been good if it wasn’t for meddlers.”
“Ah haha. Oh my… My apologies. There was something I had to give you.”
Rebethra broke cold sweat, placed the fabric wrapped item on the table, and stepped back.
It must have taken him a long time to get here from Solia, but Rebethra was stepping away after just handing over a gift. Riley tilted his head side to side.
“As I said earlier, I came here just to give you a present.”
Rebethra added that it was a high-quality raincoat as he smiled.
“I happened to have a business here in Rainfield, and I also heard that you were here on a vacation. I hope you wouldn’t misunderstand me.”
Having heard what Rebethra said, Nainiae narrowed her eye.
His explanation was different from what Sera said.
“This is all thanks to the Goddess Irenetsa, who we should be grateful.”
Rebethra prayed for a moment. As if he was really done with his business here, he turned around without hesitation and left the hotel.
Riley vacantly stared at the fabric wrapped item. He slowly moved his gaze toward Basilisk.
“Aren’t you going?”
“… Young Master.”
Riley asked in annoyed tone. On the other hand, Basilisk mumbled something completely unrelated to the question.
“About that Oldman.”
“He smells rotten?”
Before anyone realized, Basilisk was staring toward the hotel’s entrance as if he was going to punch a hole through it with his gaze.
He looked serious, so Riley tilted his head side to side, wondering why.
Basilisk mumbled again as he turned his head.
“A rotten stench, stench. He smells like he is rotten inside.”
Basilisk’s eyes were changed to sharp snake like eyes.
“How should I say this? So…”
* * *
It was at an uphill on Rainfield.
Of all dirt on the road, the man in white clothing carefully observed the parts that were especially dark. The old man furrowed his brows.
It was Rebethra.
“Huerial, I told you to be careful, didn’t I?”
Rebethra took a knee. With a frustrated face, he reached for the black dirt, ash to be precise.
“Still, you were one of the hard-working ones among us all… With you gone ahead like this, other parts won’t be able to handle the aftermath. You knew that, didn’t you?”
Rebethra grabbed a handful of ashes on his hand. He placed the ashes into a pouch he brought with him and continued to mumble.
“Everything is…. For the sake of our life long wish.”
The dirt inside the pouch started to vibrate. Rebethra peeked a creepy smile.