From the first impression, the first thing that Riley noticed was the black blind on her eyes and the staff. He then noticed her tattered clothing and pure white skin. Riley tilted his head to the side.
‘What is this?’
Riley was not certain. Perhaps it was a sense of déjà vu. Maybe something just felt mysterious. He felt a strange sensation that could not be described in words.
“Excuse me… Everyone?”
The blind woman tilted her head to the side. Because Riley had not responded, she was wondering if she had heard something wrong and mistaken it as people coming to visit her home.
“Ah, the thing is…”
Riley kept silent and just stared at the woman. Instead of him, Nainiae opened her mouth and started to glance around.
She was not sure if she should just ask straight out ‘are you the Sword Witch?’ or if she should ask indirectly by saying ‘do you know about the Sword Witch?’
“If it is a long story, then why don’t you come in? I’m not able to endure the wind from outside for long…”
Riley was sure that the woman couldn’t see because of the blind, yet it looked like the woman was not weary of the visitors. Instead, she was trying to invite the guests in. Panicking, Nainiae started to ramble on.
“Ah, well… That is… Young Master, what would you like to do?”
Nainiae whispered and asked. Riley pondered about it for a moment and took a step forward. He said,
“Well then, we will accept your generosity.”
“Yes, please come in.”
Perhaps she had difficulties with her vision. The woman with the blind on her eyes used the staff to feel the ground and went back into her home. Riley exchanged a look with Nainiae and followed in.
“Earlier, you said ‘the children are not here.’ So, I presume you do not live here by yourself?”
Having heard Riley’s question, the woman walked toward the fireplace and sat on the chair nearby. She said,
“Yes, because my eyes are like this… It can’t be helped. My pupil is helping me in daily living.”
The woman looked bitter and sad as she muttered. She was fiddling with her blind. Riley entered the home as he looked around inside and sat at an empty chair. He asked,
“Yes… She has a tendency to rush things, but compared to other children of her age, she is a good child.”
The woman was feeling the warmth from the fireplace. It seemed she was thinking about her pupil. There was a faint smile on her face. Nainiae, the one who entered the house after Riley, made a suggestion as she looked around inside,
“Excuse me. If it is all right with you, can I please use the kitchen? If you are uncomfortable with me doing so, then I won’t, but… Since you allowed us to come in, I was wondering if I could make tea for you.”
Having heard Nainiae, the woman with blind on her eyes turned her head toward Nainiae and nodded. It seemed she was pleased with the idea. The woman said,
“Yes, thank you.”
With the woman’s permission, Nainiae promptly moved toward the kitchen. She noticed that the kitchen was a mess. She looked around the kitchen in disarray and sighed.
‘Should I tidy it up a bit?’
Because she was trained as a maid, she was unable to leave such a mess be. Thinking it could not be helped, Nainiae started to show off her stuff.
‘I am sorry, Ms. Willa. I don’t have time, so I’ll use it for a moment.’
Nainiae apologized inside to Willa, the head maid of the Iphalleta House who must be at the mansion at the moment. She used two telekinesis magic spells at the same time and cleaned up the mess at the kitchen and the living room as she boiled water.
‘You didn’t have to bother with those.’
Riley watched Nainiae quickly starting the cleanup. He then redirected his gaze at the woman.
“The house looks pretty old. It looks like you had been living here for a long time?”
The woman was keeping her mouth firmly closed. Having heard Riley’s question, she lifted her head which was directed at her laps. She directed her face toward where Riley was and asked back,
“Excuse me, but…”
“Where did you come from?”
Inside, Riley thought, ‘you are finally asking me that?’ and complained.
“I am thankful for being treated with tea even though I’m just a stranger. Still… I need to ask why you have come to meet an old woman like myself.”
Listening to the woman, Riley wondered where she was getting at. He furrowed his eyebrows.
“I should know if… you are here to steal gold jewelries or just here to be a conversing partner to an old woman, don’t you think?”
“Well, I don’t think there is anything here that’s worth stealing, but still…”
For some reason, the woman was not concerned. She seemed to be assured with lots of margins to spare. Riley stared at the woman and responded as if he was making an excuse.
“If we are thieves, then we wouldn’t be sitting with you and talking to you or making tea for you. We would have bounced after packing what we came for.”
“Huhu. That makes sense.”
In response to Riley’s answer, she laughed quietly. Facing Riley, the woman asked again,
“Then can you please tell me?”
The woman was asking where they came from and why they wanted to see her. Nainiae was bringing the tea. Riley glanced at her and sent a message through telepathic communication.
She tilted her head to the side and responded in telepathic communication,
<After serving the tea, go get Nara.>
<She might be the one. Let’s check.>
Riley asked Nainiae to give a brief summary to Nara and have him comeback with her. Riley gently slid the tea cup toward the woman and said,
“Please have some tea.”
“The aroma smells wonderful. It must be the winter herb. It probably was not easy to extract the flavor from it. She must be very skilled.”
The tea didn’t have a particularly strong smell, yet she figured out what it was. Nainiae looked quite surprised. She looked at the woman.
“The scent… You can smell it?”
“As blind as I am, my sense of smell is quite good.”
Having heard the woman, Nainiae thought about Sera, her fellow maid. She sniffed and sniffed, but her gaze ran into Riley’s gaze. She tumbled and prepared teleportation magic.
“… First, how about we introduce ourselves?”
The woman felt around the table and grabbed the tea cup. Riley also followed suit and grabbed his tea cup and introduced himself.
“My name is Riley.”
He thought about giving a fake name. However, he felt like she might notice, so he decided to tell her his real name. However, he skipped his family name.
“I believe this is my first time meeting you. Do you know that name?”
The woman with the blinds shook her head. It seemed that she was thinking hard about something. She said,
“No, this is my first time hearing that name. However, I think it has a great meaning.”
She promptly introduced herself.
“My name is Inaril Esodams.”
“It is not a nobility’s name. It’s just a name.”
Earlier, the woman had praised Nainiae for her superb tea brewing skills. She realized she could no longer hear Nainiae’s breathing. The woman perked up her ears.
“The young lady who came with you…where did she go?”
“She went to the restroom.”
It seemed Riley had prepared a response. He answered immediately.
Riley asked the next question right away.
“This is a question I didn’t get to finish asking earlier. Have you been living here for a long time? The building is pretty old and the furniture’s are pretty old too. Everything looks very old?”
“Yes, it has been… quite a while.”
Having heard Riley’s question, Inaril fiddled with top of the cup. She nodded and said that was the case.
“Ever since I became blind, my sense of time had been fading. It would be difficult for me to tell you how long it has been since I settled in this place.”
She added that it had been pretty long since she had settled here. Next, she asked about Riley.
“So, Mr. Riley… Considering how your voice sounds, you must be quite young?”
“Pardon? Ah, yes.”
“That young lady earlier… Are you two lovers?”
“What the, that’s so out of the blue…”
“Um, what should I say? The atmosphere?”
‘You can’t even see, so just what atmosphere are you talking about…’
Riley looked dumbfounded. He felt a presence from the rear, so he casually turned his head.
‘… They are back?’
Riley turned his head around to look, but he casually moved his eyes back because of what Inaril said.
“That just now… Perhaps it was just my mood. The young lady who brew me a cup of tea must be a mage. She is quite skilled on top of that…”
Inaril’s blind was directed exactly at Nainiae who had just appeared before Riley.
‘How did she know?’
She talked about the atmosphere between two people. Although she shouldn’t be able to see, she figured out exactly who it was that had just appeared through teleportation. Riley narrowed his eyes and glared at Inaril.
“Are you really blind?”
“Yes, I cannot see.”
Having heard Riley’s question, Inaril brought her hand toward the blind on her eyes. She started to slowly untie the blind that was wrapped around her eyes.
“What are you doing all of the sudden…”
The blinds that covered her eyes was untied, and… her face that was hidden underneath was revealed. Riley’s mouth opened on its own.
“Will this be enough as the proof?”
On Inaril’s face… On her eyes to be precise, there was a long cut wound. It appeared to be the result of someone cutting across her eyes with a sword.
She showed her scar which went across both of her eyes. She covered her eyes with the blind and said,
“… Sound of the breathing…”
“I think another guest came? Am I right?”
Inaril faced toward Nara who had just arrived here by following Nainiae and tilted her head to the side. Nara still had not figured out the situation yet, so he started to whisper to Nainiae.
“W… Who is she?”
“First, can you please check her color?”
Nainiae said she will answer his question later. Inaril had a small smile on her face.
It was not that she was laughing to belittle and let it be known that she knew what they were up to. It was a bitter, sad smile. To let them know she heard it all, she added something about Nara.
“Since you are talking about colors, it seems you also brought someone who is a basilisk. I was not trying to hear it, but I ended up hearing it. Because my eyes… are like this…”
Nara looked at Inaril, the woman with blinds who was sitting at front of the fireplace. Nara furrowed his brows, took a step toward her and asked,
“… You, what are you?”
It was not because it had been found out that he was a basilisk.
“Is the color purple?”
Nara was standing behind Riley. Riley asked Nara as he glared at Inaril. Nara opened and closed his mouth a few times like a fish and said carefully,
As if he could not believe it, Nara blinked his eyes several times and stared at Inaril. He explained about her color that he tried to observe.
“… does not have any color.”
* * *
It was at the entrance of the Romella Village. There was Iril, a girl who was wearing a wide and flat hat. She looked back at the young man who was following her. She clicked her tongue.
“Ryan. Stop dragging your feet. Follow me quickly.”
“No, wait. Just what are you trying to do so suddenly? Also, the master is by herself, isn’t she? If it is not something important, won’t it be better for you to go by yourself…”
“Grandmother is all right. On the contrary, it is better to take care of things like this quickly. Grandmother does not have much time left.”
“Um? Not much time left? What do you mean?”
“You don’t need to know.”
“I won’t understand unless you explain properly.”
“There will be a test.”
Iril was leading the way. Having heard what she was saying, Ryan had a puzzled look on his face. He suddenly stopped walking.
“Um? What are you doing? I told you to follow me quickly?”
Ryan was following Iril to the outside of Romella Village. He had a reason for stopping all of the sudden.
It was because he found someone he knew.
Among mercenaries, this old butler was more famous across the land than Count Stein, his father. The butler was walking toward the Romella Village. Their gazes met and the butler stopped walking.
“… Young Master Ryan?”
Iril floated a question mark on her face.
“Uuuing? What’s this? Someone you know?”
The mercenaries called him the mercenary hero.
The Iphalleta Family’s butler was facing Ryan in hooded cape who was on his way out of Romella Village.