The banquet being held at the Duke Philisneon’s Family was to last for a week. There were nobilities who stayed there for two nights and three days. Some stayed through the entire week before heading back.
However, somehow, the number of people heading back after a short visit decreased substantially. Most of them were still at the mansion for the fourth day and blooming conversations.
“Until this time, it was Young Master Ryan that came to the banquet, right?”
“I thought Young Master Lloyd, the one who became the successor, would come this year, but Young Master Riley came.”
“I didn’t see him around at all? Where is he?”
“That is… I’ve heard he was not feeling well.”
“Oh my… That’s a concern.”
“Should we be worried about him? I’ve heard he is a lazy one who never once held a sword. Even Count Stein must not be thinking about him much, so I think worrying about the Lazy-Sword would be a waste.”
“Well, don’t get so worked up.”
It was because of disasters that happened at the Solia Castle recently.
“The situation is dire enough to even worry about that Lazy-Sword.”
The nobilities were holding the meeting to fill the gap because the Solia’s Magic Tower and Holy Temple now lost their functions.
“Why is everyone so focused on that Lazy-Sword? What does he have? Instead of him, won’t it be better to discuss about Young Master Lloyd who became the successor…”
“Young Master Riley, the Lazy-Sword… has a triumph card that could overturn this situation, don’t you know?”
“A triumph card?”
One of the nobilities who didn’t like Riley put up a curious look on his face after hearing the conversation. He started to listen carefully.
“By any chance, have you seen Young Master’s maid?”
“Who are you talking about?”
Lately, there were two maids from the Iphalleta house that could be seen occasionally at the Philisneon Mansion. The nobility was not certain which of the two was being discussed and tilted the head to the side. The other nobility who asked the question fiddled with the middle finger and said,
“Ah! That hideous looking one?”
The nobility figured out who based on the gesture about the finger and then put on curious look on his face, asking what was so important about her.
“Her face is not becoming of a maid. When I first saw her face… I almost had to run to the restroom because of her scars.”
“To save the master’s face, they should either make her quit being a maid or it would be good to have her wear a mask.”
The nobilities thought about her appearance. They all clicked their tongues.
“Anyway… The important thing about the maid with the scars is who she really is.”
The nobility who brought up the maid locked the fingers between two hands and placed them just below the nose.
“Do you remember the Astroa incident during the spring?”
“Ah, of course I remember. It was one of the major incidents this year. Some are thinking the horrible incident during the fall may had been caused by the fact that he was imprisoned.”
“Are you aware that the maid who Young Master has right now is… the grand mage who stopped Astroa?”
Other nobilities who were not aware of the maid’s true identity opened their eyes big.
“Huh… That horrid looking thing is? How?”
“Did she use some kind of underhanded method?”
“Was she just lucky? No… If she was just lucky, you wouldn’t have said she is a triumph card.”
The nobility who brought up the maid nodded and explained,
“I heard that she is a Six Circles mage… who survived the experiments at the Magic Tower.”
“S… Six Circles?”
“Oh my god, is that true?”
“That maid… she looked younger than my own daughter… This is so unexpected…”
They were talking about Nainiae who was Riley’s maid and also famous as the grand mage. Sera happened to be passing by. She hid herself behind a pillar and tightened her fist in fury.
“We need to use her as a weapon. She is only 18 or 19, yet she is at Six Circles. Just having her at the top position of the Magic Tower would be effective in deterring other cities from targeting our Solia! Don’t you think?”
“What’s there to second guess about? She is a great weapon!”
“However, her appearance is a little… Don’t you think Solia would lose face if we placed her as the one who represents the Magic Tower? How about lightly spreading the rumor about her and finding another way?”
“First, we should talk to the Solia Castle and then…”
The nobilities were bringing up all sorts of things about Nainiae. Sera was unable to stand it anymore. She left the scene.
‘They are branding a person as a weapon. They are saying her appearance makes her unworthy of a certain position… Seriously…’
Sera’s face was red. She took grumpy steps back to the room. Reutrina watched Sera from the back and put on mysterious smile.
* * *
“Nainiae. How about you take a break and leave the room for a bit?”
“You had been in here for the past three days. Aren’t you feeling uncomfortable being cooped up?”
Regardless of Riley being awake or not, Nainiae never left his side. Nainiae tilted her head to the side after hearing Sera suggesting Nainiae to go get some fresh air.
“No, I don’t feel cooped up…”
Sera leaned all the way. With her face right in front of Nainiae’s, Sera looked at Nainiae’s eyes. Sera shook her head and said again,
“You are definitely looking fine, but how should I say this? You need to refresh your mind occasionally to make your head run properly, you know? Go take a walk and come back.”
Sera snatched the water towel from Nainiae and shrugged, telling Nainiae she should really go take a walk. Unable to say no, Nainiae got up.
“I am really fine…”
“… I got it. I’ll come back later.”
Once again, Nainiae looked at Riley who was sleeping soundly and then left the room.
<Sera is right! You need to refresh yourself too! Being cooped up like that can be unbearable, you see? It doesn’t matter if you are a human or a summon spirit!>
When Nainiae got out of the room, Heliona appeared as if she was waiting for this moment. She stretch-yawned and insisted Nainiae should get some fresh air outside.
“You don’t need to hush me. As you can see, I am on my way out.”
Heliona was yapping away while pulling on Nainiae’s hair. Nainiae smiled as if she just could not help how Heliona was. Nainiae was heading toward the outside of the mansion, but she stopped.
Nainiae ran into Reutrina. It seemed Reutrina was also intending to head outside for a walk. She was wearing relatively simpler clothes.
<Ah, it’s that ugly woman.>
Nainiae lowered her head, and Heliona whispered quietly to Nainiae’s ear.
They were indebt to Philisneon’s family at the moment. Nainiae did not want Heliona’s words to be heard. Nainiae asked Heliona to keep her mouth in check. Nainiae raised her head and asked,
“Are you going out for a walk?”
“Yes, Ms. Nainiae, are you about to as well?”
Ever since Nainiae was pointed out as the grand mage of Six Circles, Reutrina had been addressing Nainiae respectfully.
“Yes, I am for a bit.”
“That’s good. Would you like to go together? I spent my whole life in the mansion, so I know a good place.”
Reutrina said she will be running into other nobilities everywhere because the banquet was in session. Reutrina said she knew a pathway that didn’t have many people around.
“Okay. I’ll accept your generous consideration.”
<Nainiae. Are you really going to follow her? Won’t it be better to just use invisibility magic and move around leisurely? It’s snowing too. The scenery at the rooftop would be pretty nice too. That woman makes me lose my appetite, you get it?>
‘Ms. Heliona, quiet…’
Heliona was blowing up her cheeks. Nainiae barely calmed down Heliona and walked to the back door of the mansion by following Reutrina.
“When will it end?”
“I’m asking about the banquet.”
Reutrina walked out of the back door first and was stepping on the snow. With her hands resting on her back, Reutrina turned to look at Nainiae who followed her.
“From what I’ve heard, the banquet lasts for a week…”
Nainiae was wondering why Reutrina was asking her that question. Nainiae chose not to ask why. Instead, she gave a suitable answer.
“Yes, there were several strange incidents this year. The banquet is supposed to be for a week just like last year, but… the mood is suffocating. It is completely different from the last time.”
Reutrina used her right arm in fan shape swings to drag on the snow that was piled up in front of her. She then breathed out to form frosted mist as she put up an awkward look on her face.
“How is Young Master Riley?”
Nainiae looked up the sky and watched the snow falling. Having heard the question, Nainiae looked at Reutrina.
“It looks like nothing is happening. There does not appear to be any good progress.”
Although the fever subsided, Riley was still not waking up. Nainiae went around and described his condition indirectly. She looked upset. Nainiae started to fiddle with her fingers.
Reutrina vacantly watched Nainiae’s response. She then leisurely crouched down and started to form a lump of snow with what she brushed earlier with her right arm.
“Nainiae, by any chance…”
It seemed what Reutrina was about to ask was going to be a delicate matter. Reutrina paused for a moment, but then she asked directly.
“… do you like Young Master Riley?”
The area fell to silence.
At the pathway behind the mansion, there was just the tranquil sound of the snow falling and the crushing sound of the snow on Reutrina’s hand.
“… It would be good for you to give up.”
Nainiae was about to open her mouth. However, Reutrina broke the silence faster.
“Solia’s Sword, Iphalleta… The name is not to be taken lightly. It’s very likely that Count Stein will be against it too.”
Reutrina crumpled the lump of snow and continued.
“What about your appearance? I suppose I can rate your skin as fair, but the scars on your right… They cannot be healed, right?”
<This lass is seriously!>
‘Please calm down.’
Heliona wanted to unload a mouthful to Reutrina. However, Nainiae was shaking her head and stopping Heliona. Heliona looked frustrated.
“In that case, as I thought, it would be good for you to give up.”
Reutrina added that it would be good for Nainiae to give up. Nainiae stopped fiddling with her fingers. She looked at Reutrina’s back and opened her mouth which remained silent for a long while.
“Even though I am a Seven Circles mage?”
Her response was unexpected. Reutrina looked surprised when she looked back to see Nainiae.
“Seven Circles… If that is true, then I am a little surprised. At your age, you are at Seven Circles… I think others might mistake you as a dragon. Maybe your name will be mentioned in history books.”
Reutrina dusted off her hands and got up. Reutrina turned her body toward Nainiae and said,
“Still, don’t you think it will be hard?”
Nainiae vacantly stared at Reutrina. Reutrina silently smiled and started to fiddle with her own fingers just like how Nainiae was earlier.
“A ring… you cannot wear one, can you?”
Reutrina was piercing at the heart of the matter in Nainiae. Nainiae’s face crumpled for the first time since they came out for the walk.
“You had been concerned about that for a long time, haven’t you?”
Nainiae was not able to talk back. She just pulled her chin. Reutrina narrowed her eyes and said,
“In that case, I guess it won’t work.”
Reutrina once again said it won’t work. Having heard what she said, Nainiae tightened her fist.
Perhaps Reutrina thought Nainiae’s reaction was adorable. She broke into laughter, waved her hand around and said,
“Nainiae, wedding ring is to be worn on your left hand. You wear the engagement ring on your right hand.”
It seemed Reutrina found making fun of Nainiae to be amusing. She steadily smiled and looked at Nainiae’s left hand. As if there was nothing to be concerned about, Reutrina said,
“If you were concerned about your right hand, then don’t worry too much. Your left hand is fine.”
“Puuhup… You are adorable.”
Reutrina held her stomach and laughed. There were some tears on her eyes from laughing so much. Reutrina wiped them off with fingers and asked,
“Of the books you read at the Rainfield during the summer, it seems there wasn’t one about a basic knowledge like this? Is that right?”
Not only did Reutrina find out about something Nainiae had been worrying about for a long time, Reutrina was asking a very specific question about something that happened. Wondering what it was about, Nainiae furrowed her brows.