Those who pick up, those who are picked up
Editors/Proofreaders: JcqC, Ferro, TaintedDream, Namorax, Skythewood, SifaV6, Storm LokiPart 1
Mid Fire Month (8th Month), Day 26, 15:27
After escorting the old woman to her house, Sebas headed towards his original destination.
The place he arrived at was surrounded by wide walls.
Beyond it, he could see three towers, each five stories tall. None of the buildings in the immediate area reached as high as the towers, making them seem incredibly tall.
The towers were surrounded by several narrow, two-story buildings.
This was the headquarters of the Kingdom’s Magician’s Guild. They needed that wide berth of land in order to create new magic and nurture magic casters. The reason they possessed so much land despite receiving almost zero funding from the Kingdom was because they were the ones in charge of creating magic items.
Eventually, he spotted a sturdy looking door. The decorated wooden door leading to the two story building was left wide open, flanked on either side by numerous armed guards standing watch.
Without being stopped by the guards — receiving only a cursory glance — Sebas stepped through the doorway.
Beyond it was a set of wide, level stairs that led to another door connecting to a splendid, aged building made of white marble. That door as well was left open as if to welcome all guests.
Passing through that door led to a small entrance hall, and beyond it was the lobby. The tall ceiling of the hall was adorned with countless chandeliers that were lit with magic.
To the right was the lobby’s lounge, complete with numerous sofas where several magic casters seemed to be in the middle of a discussion. To the left stood a notice board, numerous adventurers and people wearing the robes of magic casters could be seen staring earnestly at the parchments nailed on the board.
Further inside, several young men and women sat behind a counter. All of them had the same emblem as the one hanging in front of the building embroidered onto their robes.
On either side of the counter stood a skinny, life sized puppet without eyes or a nose— a wood golem, reminiscent of a sketch. It was most likely used as security. Save for the guards outside, the reason that the guards inside the building were not human was probably so that the Magic Guild could appear unique.
Without missing a beat, Sebas steadily approached the counter.
The young man at the counter acknowledged Sebas and greeted him with his eyes. Sebas slightly nodded in response. The two were already familiar with each other because of his frequent visits.
The young man smiled and gave his usual greeting to the man in front of him.
“Thank you for visiting our Magician Guild, Sebas-sama. May I ask for the purpose of your visit?”
“I would like to purchase a magic scroll. May I see the list, per usual?”
“Yes, of course.”
The young man quickly placed a large book on the counter. He most likely already had it prepared when he saw Sebas walk in.
Made with rich, thin, white paper and a leather cover, it was a splendid book. Considering that the words were embroidered in gold thread, it alone would make it quite expensive.
Sebas pulled the book towards him and opened it.
Unfortunately, he could not read its contents. No, it would be more accurate to say that those from YGGDRASIL could not read them. Although he could understand their speech because of the strange rules of this world, written words were a different story.
However, his master had given him a magic item for this exact problem.
Sebas drew out a spectacle case and opened it.
Inside was a pair of glasses with a thin, silver-like frame. Looking closely, they were engraved with narrow letters— patterns. The lens were crafted from blue ice crystals.
As he put them on, the magic within them allowed him to read the words.
He quickly flipped through the pages with meticulous precision and suddenly stopped his hand. His eyes moved from the book and rested on a young woman who was sitting behind the counter, next to the young man. He spoke to her in a gentle voice.
“Is there a problem?”
“N-nothing at all…”
The girl blushed and lowered her face.
“I just thought… that your posture was quite striking.”
“Thank you very much.”
Sebas showed a gentle smile, causing the girl to blush even deeper.
The gray-haired gentleman Sebas was someone who you would be attracted to simply by looking at him. On top of his graceful countenance, he radiated an elegance that turned the heads of nine out of ten women, regardless of age. It could not be helped that the young woman at the counter would mindlessly stare at Sebas; it was quite common, after all.
Sebas nodded and returned his gaze to the book, his hand stopping on a certain page as he asked the young man a question.
“This magic— ‘Floating Board’, could you tell me about it in detail?”
The young man began his explanation without hesitation.
“‘Floating Board’ is a tier 1 magic that creates a floating, translucent board. The size and weight limit of the board varies depending on the caster, but when invoked from a scroll, it measures one meter on all sides and can hold up to 50 kilograms. The caster can be at most five meters away from the board. Please note that it can only follow, the board will not recognize any other movement commands like leading the front and so on. If the caster quickly turns 180 degrees in place, the board will slowly re-position itself behind the caster. This spell is usually used to transport goods and in construction sites.”
Sebas nodded his head.
“I see. Then I would like one scroll with this magic.”
The young man was not surprised by the fact that he chose a rather unpopular magic. Most of the scrolls that Sebas would buy were the unpopular kind, such as this one. The Magician Guild could only be grateful to him for helping them get rid of their surplus stock.
“Will one scroll be all?”
“Yes, if you would, please.”
The young man gestured at the man sitting beside him.
Having listened to the whole conversation, the man immediately stood up and entered through the door behind the counter. Scrolls were an expensive commodity. Even with guards, it should not be stored at the counter.
Around five minutes later, the man returned. In his hand was a single rolled up parchment.
“Here it is.”
Sebas stared at the parchment that was set on the counter. The craftwork of the rolled up parchment was impressive, even at a glance, it was different from the ones found in the market. He checked to make sure that the name of the magic written in black ink matched the name of the magic that he wanted then removed his glasses.
“I’ve confirmed it. I will be taking this.”
“Thank you very much.”
The young man politely bowed his head.
“This scroll is a tier 1 spell and will cost one gold and ten silver coins.”
A potion created from the same tier of spells cost two gold coins. Compared to that, it was relatively cheap. A scroll was special in that normally, they could only be used by those who are versed in the same branch of magic. It basically meant that a potion that could be used by anyone would obviously fetch a higher price.
Of course, even if you were to call it cheap, one gold and ten silver coins was still quite a large sum for the average person. It was about a month and a half worth of wages. However, for Sebas— no, for the one he served, the amount was trivial.
Sebas took out a leather pouch, loosened the top, and counted out eleven coins. He then handed the amount to the young man.
“The payment has been received.”
The young man did not do something like checking the coins for authenticity in front of Sebas. He had traded with them often enough to earn their trust.
♦ ♦ ♦
“That old gentleman was cool!”
After Sebas exited the Magician Guild, the receptionists, especially the women, gathered together and started to make a fuss.
Rather than the faces of sagacious women, they had the faces of girls who had met their adored prince. One of the men who sat at the counter frowned with jealousy, but having experienced Sebas’ elegance firsthand, remained quiet.
“He must have served under some incredibly high ranking noble before. It wouldn’t be strange if he was the third son of some rich noble’s household.”
Even for nobles, it was common for those who could not inherit the household to become butlers or maids. The more prestigious a noble’s title, the more they wished to employ such servants. The air of elegance surrounding Sebas made others believe that he was a noble himself.
“He carried himself incredibly well.”
The group behind the counter all nodded their heads in agreement.
“I think I would definitely say yes if he asked me out for tea.”
“Yeah, I’ll go! I’ll go! Definitely!”
The girls clamored with high pitched voices. Like how he seemed to be the type to be familiar with incredibly elegant shops. How he would be the perfect escort and such. The men glanced at them from the side and held their own discussion.
“He seemed quite educated. Could he also be a magic caster?”
“Maybe, it’s possible.”
The spells that Sebas picked out were always the ones that were recently invented. That was why they could guess that he possessed ample knowledge about magic. If he were here on orders to purchase a spell, then he could simply say the name directly at the counter without going through the book. The fact that he made the selection after looking through the list meant that he himself made the judgment on what spells to purchase.
He was definitely not an ordinary old man. In other words, it was not unusual to think that he was a tutor in magic— a magic caster.
“And those glasses… didn’t they seem incredibly expensive?”
“Could it be a magic item?”
“No, isn’t it just a luxury item? Maybe a dwarf made it.”
“Right, he’s pretty incredible to own such a beautiful pair of glasses.”
“I want to see the beauty he brought with him that one time.”
The words that the man muttered almost as an afterthought was met with voices of opposition from next to him.
“What~? The only thing she had going for her was her appearance.”
“Yeah, I felt sorry Sebas-san. He’s definitely being overworked.”
“Even if she’s beautiful, she definitely has a bad personality. I didn’t like the way she looked at us. I feel sorry for Sebas-san for having to serve someone like that.”
The severe criticism on the same sex from the women caused the men to shut their mouths.
Sebas’ master possessed a beauty that would make others fall in love with her in an instant. Although the women next to them were beautiful enough to be picked as the faces of the Magician Guild, the difference was like night and day. Even though the male workers wanted to tell them not to be jealous, it was obvious what would happen if they were to do so. There was no one among them who would be that foolish. That was why—
“Hey, enough with the chitchat.”
The young man spotted an adventurer heading towards the counter and directed his voice at the group, prompting them to put on a serious expression and continue with their jobs.
♦ ♦ ♦
Having left the Magician Guild, Sebas glanced up at the sky.
Because escorting the old woman back home took longer than he expected, the sky was gradually being dyed red. Although his watch showed that it was time for curfew, he still wasn’t finished with his daily tasks. Since it wasn’t a problem, should he push back the rest for tomorrow? Or perhaps he should finish the rest of his work, even if it meant going past the allotted time.
His hesitation only lasted an instant.
Helping the old woman was his arbitrary decision, he had to take responsibility.
Twitch. Sebas felt his shadow stir.
“Please send word to Solution. Tell her that I will be a little late. That is all.”
Although there was no answer, the presence moved and became distant, as if it was moving between shadows.
Sebas moved his feet.
He did not have a destination. His goal was to completely map out the geography of the capital. He wasn’t commanded to do it; rather, it was out of his own free will as part of his information gathering.
“Let us head in that direction today.”
Having muttered so, Sebas rubbed his hair back and spun the scroll he held in one hand. He was like a child enjoying himself.
He walked farther and farther out from the center of the capital, from where the public order was best.
After winding through the roads, the streets started to become dirty and a slightly foul stench began to permeate the air. It was the smell of rotten foods and sewage. Sebas walked silently through the stench that threatened to cling on to his clothes.
Sebas abruptly stopped his stride and looked around his surroundings. He appeared to have ventured into a back alleyway. The path was just barely wide enough to allow two people to pass each other.
The narrow alleyway and the setting sun, no sign of people anywhere, they made it difficult for people to take this road. But none of that posed a problem for Sebas. He walked on in silence, melting into the darkness.
Sebas turned multiple corners in a direction that was more desolate than the last and suddenly, his unfaltering steps came to a halt.
Without a specific destination in mind, he had been walking to wherever his feet and whims may take him. However, he found that he had ventured quite far from the residence he had established as their base. Using his intuition, Sebas roughly perceived his current location and drew a line in his head from here to the base.
Although it was a trivial distance considering Sebas’ physical ability, that only applied when moving in a straight line. Walking normally would end up taking quite a bit of time. Since it was almost time for the curtain of night to fall, it would be prudent for him to start heading back. He did not want to worry Solution whom he was staying with. Should a strong enemy appear, both Solution and Sebas had a Shadow Demon hiding in their shadows. Using them as shields would give them ample time to retreat. However—
“… I should be heading back.”
Though honestly, he wanted to continue his walk for a bit longer. This was almost like his hobby; he would often lose track of time when it came to his outings. However, even if he had to withdraw, Sebas felt that he should at least see what was past this road and decided to continue down the narrow alleyway.
As he walked silently through the darkness, a sudden creaking noise rang out fifteen meters in front of him. A heavy iron door slowly opened up ahead, spilling its interior lights outside. Sebas stopped and quietly observed the scene in front of him.
When the door was opened all the way, a person’s face came into view. Although he could only discern the silhouette because of the backlight, it was probably a man. He appeared to examine his surroundings and, failing to notice Sebas, went back inside.
Thud. Suddenly, a heavy sack was flung out the door and crashed on to the ground. The light leaking from the door fell on the sack, and by its shape, made it apparent that something soft was being held inside.
Although the door was open, the man who threw the sack as if he was taking out the trash did not yet reappear.
For a moment, Sebas frowned then wondered whether he should walk past it or head back the way he came. He had run into quite a bothersome incident.
After a brief hesitation, he continued down the quiet and narrow path of the dark alleyway.
The mouth of the large sack split open.
The sound of Sebas’ footsteps rang through the alley and at last, the distance between him and sack shortened.
As he was about to walk past, his feet stopped.
Sebas felt something touch his pants. He lowered his gaze and there, found what he had expected to see.
Extending from the sack, an emaciated, twig-like hand holding onto the hem of his pants and the topless body of a girl.
The sack was now opened wide, fully revealing the girl from the waist up.
Her blue pupils held no strength, glossed over in a murky glint. The hair that fell down to her shoulders was withered due to a lack of nutrients. Her face was beaten, swollen like a balloon. Her dry, cracked skin was littered with countless pink spots the size of fingernails.
The scrawny body had almost no life remaining.
It was already no different from a corpse. No, it was obviously still alive. The hand grasping on to the hem of Sebas’ pants claimed as much. But could you call someone who could only just barely breathe as being alive?
“…Will you please release your hand?”
There was no response to his words. It was obvious that she wasn’t ignoring him despite hearing what he said. Past the swollen cracks of her eyelids, there was nothing reflected in her murky eyes as they stared into space.
If Sebas were to move his feet, he could easily brush aside those fingers that were thinner than tree branches. However, he did not do so and instead, asked her once more.
“…Are you in trouble? If so—“
“—Hey, old man, where’d you come from.”
A low, menacing voice interrupted Sebas.
A man appeared from the doorway. Thick chest and arms with a scar on his face, the man glared sharply at Sebas with a hostility that was plain for anyone to see. The lantern in his hand shined a red light.
“Oi, oi, oi. What’re you staring at, old man?”
The man loudly clicked his tongue and gestured with his chin.
“Get lost. If you leave now then I’ll let you go in one piece.”
Seeing that Sebas did not move even after his warning, the man took a step forward. The door behind him slammed shut with a heavy thud. Very slowly, the man menacingly set down the lantern at his feet.
“Hey gramps, you deaf?”
The man spun his shoulder, cracked his neck, and slowly raised his right fist. He obviously was not someone who would hesitate to resort to violence.
Sebas smiled, one well suited for the expression of an elderly gentleman. His smile made others feel his kindness and experience a powerful sense of relief. But for some reason, the man took a step back, as if a powerful carnivore had appeared in front of him without warning.
“Uhh, uh, uh, wha—“
Pressed back by Sebas’ smile, the man uttered incoherently. Without even realizing that his breathing grew harsh, the man tried to retreat back farther.
Sebas fastened the scroll he had been holding in his hand until now to his belt, the one he bought from the Magician’s Guild. He took exactly one step forward in order to close the distance between him and the man and stretched out his hand. The man could not even react to that movement. The hand that was grasping onto the hem of Sebas’ pants fell to the ground without a sound.
As if that was the signal, the outstretched hand grabbed the man’s throat and— too easily, his body was lifted into the air.
When comparing Sebas with the man based solely on their outer appearance, Sebas had no chance of victory. Age, thickness of the chest, arms, height, weight, and the smell of violence that their bodies exuded, Sebas could not beat him in anything.
That old gentleman had lifted the powerful heavyweight of a man into the air with one hand—
—No, that wasn’t the case. If there was a third party present, that person may be able to keenly sense the ‘difference’ between the two men. Humans possessed the senses of living creatures— even if they were duller than that of wild animals, would they not realize it if such a clear distinction was placed before them?
The ‘difference’ between Sebas and the man was—
—the difference between the strongest and the weakest.
Now completely off the ground, the man thrashed his feet about and twisted his body. As he tried to grab Sebas’ arm with his hands, his eyes filled with terror, as if he had come to a realization.
The man had just managed to figure out that the old man in front of him was an existence completely at odds with his outer appearance. Useless retaliation would only serve to further anger the monster in front of him.
“That girl, ‘what’ is she?”
A quiet voice flowed into the man who had stiffened up with fear.
His voice flowed quietly, like clear water. The stark contrast with how he was easily holding the man in the air with one hand only served to terrify him further.
“S-She’s our employee.”
The man responded desperately, his voice etched in fear.
“I asked ‘what’ she was. Are you replying to my question by saying that she is an ‘employee’?”
The man wondered if he had given the wrong answer. But was that not the most correct reply in this situation? His wide eyes looked about frantically, moving around like the eyes of a scared animal.
“Ah, there are some among my comrades who also treat humans like objects. I ventured to guess whether or not you also fall under that category. If you saw humans as objects, then you would not feel any remorse. But you replied by referring to her as an employee. Then you have done what you did while recognizing her as a human, correct? I will ask you again. What were you going to do with her?”
The man thought briefly. However—
A sound like something being crushed rang out.
Strength went into Sebas’ arm, instantly making it painful for the man to breathe.
The man screamed with a bizarre noise as Sebas channeled strength into his hand, making it even more difficult for him to breathe. ‘I will not give you the time to ponder, answer immediately.’ His message was clear.
“S-She’s sick. I was taking her to the temp—“
“—I do not like lies.”
The strength in Sebas’ arm grew even stronger and the man’s face became dyed completely red as he screamed out once more. Even if he could suspend all disbelief and acknowledge that putting her into a sack to transport her to the temple was a possibility, Sebas could not sense even a shred of concern from the man towards the girl when that same sack was dashed against the ground, like he was throwing out the trash.
With his air escaping him, the man’s life was in danger. He started to flail his legs, unable to think of anything else.
Sebas easily blocked the fist heading for his face with one hand. Although the man’s flailing legs slammed into his body and dirtied his clothes, Sebas did not budge.
—It was obvious. A normal human cannot move a giant block of steel with their feet.
Although he was kicked by a pair of thick legs, Sebas calmly continued to speak, as if he wasn’t even in pain.
“I recommend that you speak truthfully.”
With the man no longer able to breathe, Sebas narrowed his eyes as he looked up at the man’s reddened face. He aimed for the moment just before he lost consciousness and released him.
The man rolled onto the floor with a loud noise.
“Uugh, haa, haa, haa.”
He expelled the last of the air that remained in his lungs with a scream and greedily gasped for breath. Sebas looked down at him in silence. He then reached once more for the man’s throat.
“W-wait, h-hold on!”
With fear piercing his body, he painfully stumbled on the floor, away from Sebas’ hand.
“T-T-Temple! I was going to take her to the temple!”
Still with the lies, his willpower is unexpectedly strong…
He had expected the man to break under the pain and the fear of death. However, despite being frightened, he showed no signs of spilling the truth. The danger of leaking information rivaled the danger that Sebas posed.
Sebas considered changing his approach. In some sense, this place was enemy territory.
The reason the man did not call for help from beyond the door was because he did not expect any of his allies to respond immediately. Regardless, staying any longer will cause the situation to become more bothersome.
He did not receive any orders to cause trouble for his master, only to keep himself hidden and quietly collect information.
“If that is what you were planning then there will not be a problem even if I am the one to take her. I will make sure that she recovers.”
The man’s surprised eyes shook side-to-side. He then desperately squeezed out his next words.
“… There’s no guarantee that you’ll take her there.”
“Then how about if you accompany me?”
“I’m busy right now so I can’t. I’m going to take her later.”
Sensing something in Sebas’ expression, the man quickly continued on.
“That’s legally ours. If you’re going to put your hands on other people’s property, then you’re breaking the law! If you take her with you then it’s kidnapping!”
Sebas froze abruptly and furrowed his brows for the first time.
The man attacked where it hurt the most.
Although his master had said that it was okay to stand out to a certain extent, that only applied when it was necessary for their disguises as a rich family’s daughter and her butler.
If he broke the law and invited the hand of the judiciaries, there was a possibility that their cover could be blown. In other words, it could lead to a huge uproar and become exactly the type of conspicuous incident that his master did not want.
Although it was hard to imagine that this rugged, crude looking man was educated, his tone was still confident. He must have heard it from someone who was knowledgeable about the law. Then there was a high possibility that his claim held true.
With no witnesses in sight, the answer was simple. He could simply end it through force. All that would leave behind was a corpse with a broken neck.
But that was only when it was absolutely necessary. It was a final, last-ditch method to be used only when it coincided with his master’s objective. It could not be used for the sake of this unknown girl whom he had just met.
Then was abandoning the girl the right choice?
Sebas felt his irritation rise at the man’s crude smile.
“Can a great, gentlemanly butler like you cause trouble for your master behind their back?”
The man was grinning now, seeing how Sebas’ frown became more obvious, he must have realized that he had a hold on the butler’s weakness.
“I don’t know which noble you serve, but won’t you be harming your master if you cause trouble? Ahn? And who knows, that noble might have a good relationship with us. Won’t you get scolded?”
“…Did you think that my master was someone who could not handle the law? Rules were made to be broken by the strong.”
As if he hit a nerve, the man looked momentarily frightened but immediately regained his confidence.
“...So how about you try it then?”
The man showed no signs of falling for Sebas’ bluff. The one backing him must be quite an influential figure indeed. Concluding that attacking from this direction was ineffective, Sebas decided to approach from a different angle.
“… You may be right. A run-in with the law may indeed prove quite troublesome. However, there is also a law stating that a person may rescue another by force should they request it. I am merely following the law and providing her with assistance. First and foremost, since she appears to be unconscious, I believe she should be brought to the temple for treatment. Do you not agree?”
“Uh… no… that’s…”
The man seemed to be at a loss for words.
His mask was undone.
Sebas felt relieved that the man was a poor actor and a dim-witted fool. He had lied. Since the other party mentioned the law, Sebas simply opted to do the same.
Sebas, being unfamiliar with this country’s laws, would have had no way to respond if the man had rebuked him once more with another law; even if the man had been lying. The man ended up in this position because he only knew the law by ear and did not bother to study it.
Because his knowledge of the law was what he had heard off hand, it would come back to bite him should his opponent opt for a legal debate. And the man was most likely a low-ranking member of his organization. He was not used to a position where he had to make his own decisions.
Sebas turned his eyes away from the man and brought the girl’s head close.
“Do you want me to help you?”
Sebas asked her. He leaned his ear towards the girl’s cracked, rustling lips.
The sound of faint breathing flowed into his ears. No, could it even be called as such? It was like the sound of the final remaining air escaping from a balloon.
There was no response. Sebas slightly turned his head and asked once more.
“Do you want me to help you?”
The circumstances revolving around aiding this girl and the old woman from before were completely different. Although Sebas did desire to help others in need, there was a high possibility that helping this girl will lead to no small amount of trouble. Sebas felt as if a chilling wind was passing through his heart. He worried whether or not the Supreme Being would permit such actions, about how this may betray a higher objective.
As expected, there was no reply.
The man’s face slowly broke out into a crude smile.
For someone who was familiar with her hell-like environment, it was obvious that she would not even have the energy to speak. Otherwise, he would not have pulled her out to dispose of her in the first place.
A stroke of luck does not occur in succession. If it were so frequent, then it would not be called luck in the first place.
That’s right. If the hand that grasped the hem of Sebas’ pants was a stroke of good fortune, there would not be a second time.
—Her luck had run out the moment Sebas stepped foot in this place. Everything that would follow after was the result of her will to live.
That— would never be because of luck.
—Ever so slightly, her mouth moved. Her voice did not flow naturally like how one would breathe. They contained a clear, distinct will.
Hearing those words, Sebas gave a single nod.
“…I have no intention of saving those who only pray for others to extend a helping hand, like plants waiting for the rain. However… if they themselves fight to survive…”
Sebas covered the girl’s eyes with his hand.
“Do not be frightened, rest now. I will place you under my protection.”
Clinging onto some soft, warm sensation, the girl closed her murky eyes.
The man was in disbelief and tried to voice his obvious response.
The rest could not be heard. The man’s body froze, his voice dying in his throat.
“Did you just say that I am lying?”
Before anyone had noticed, Sebas stood up, piercing the man with his gaze.
His eyes were terrifying.
The man’s breath was cut short by the sensation of his heart on the verge of exploding.
“Are you claiming that I would lie to the likes of you?”
Gulp. The man’s throat moved as he swallowed the large amount of saliva that had gathered in his mouth. His eyes became nailed to Sebas’ arm. The fear that he had foolishly forgotten from not knowing his place had returned.
“Then I will be taking her with me.”
“Y-you can’t! No, no, sir, you can’t!”
Sebas glanced over at the man who had raised his voice.
“Do you still have something to say? Are you trying to buy time?”
“N-no sir, that’s not it. I’m telling you that it’s going to be a huge problem if you take that girl, to you and your master both. Eight Fingers, don’t you know them?”
Sebas had heard of them from his information gathering. They were a criminal organization that operated from the Kingdom’s shadow.
“You understand, right? Please sir, just pretend that you didn’t see anything. If you take her then they’re going to punish me for screwing up.”
The man had realized that he could not win with strength and adopted a flattering demeanor. Sebas looked at him coldly and spoke in an equally cold voice.
“I will take her with me.”
“Spare me, I’m begging you! I’ll be a dead man!”
Perhaps I should kill him right here.
Sebas fell into thought. He could hear the man crying even while weighing the positive and negative consequences of killing him.
Although he thought that the man could be trying to buy time for his allies to arrive, he ruled out that possibility from seeing his behavior.
“Why do you not call for help?”
The man blinked and replied immediately.
According to him, if he were to lose them while he looked for help, the fact that he made a critical mistake would become known to his allies. He also did not think it likely that they could win in a fight, even with more people. That was why he was trying to convince Sebas to change his mind.
Seeing such woefully pathetic behavior, Sebas felt the tension leave his body. His killing intent had all but vanished. Although, with that said, he had no intention of handing the girl over to the man. If so—
“…Then how about you flee?”
“That’s impossible sir. I don’t have the money for that.”
“Though I do not think it would be more expensive than your life… I will provide you with the funds.”
The light returned to the man’s face from Sebas’ words.
Although it may be safer to kill him, if he desperately escaped then it may at least buy some time. Meanwhile, he can treat her wounds and move her somewhere safe.
And if he were to kill the man here, there was a good chance that they would search for the girl who immediately went missing.
Similar to how the circumstances leading up to the girl ending up in her current situation were unknown, he could not rule out the possibility of this harming her acquaintances and family.
Sebas was troubled. Why was he going so far as to take on all of these risks?
He did not understand where the stirring in his heart to save this girl came from. Other denizens of Nazarick would have ignored it, saying that they couldn’t be bothered. They would have shaken her hand loose and walked off.
—One must help others in need.
Sebas responded to the man, setting aside the swaying of his heart that even he himself could not explain. Now was not the time for such thoughts.
“Use this money to hire an adventurer and do everything you can to escape.”
As Sebas took out a leather pouch, the man’s eyes filled with doubt. The amount of money that could fit inside a small pouch would not be enough.
However, in the next moment, the man’s eyes became glued to the coins that were tossed onto the ground. The silver-like glint was that of the platinum used when dealing with trade between countries. Worth ten times more than gold, ten of such coins were scattered about.
“Everything, do you understand? I also have a few questions. How much time do you have to answer?”
“Uh, we’re good for time. Getting rid… um, no, I told them that I would be leaving to take her to the temple so I can be a little late.”
“I see. Then let us be off.”
Keeping his words brief, Sebas motioned for the man to follow him with his chin and walked on with the girl in his arms.
Mid Fire Month (8th Month), Day 26, 18:58
The current house where Sebas resided was in an affluent neighborhood with high public order, even by the capital’s standards.
Although the size paled in comparison to the neighboring houses, it looked to be built so that two generations of families and their servants could live together. For only Sebas and Solution, the space was simply too large.
Needless to say, they had a reason for renting such a large mansion. As long as they were disguised as the family of a wealthy merchant from a far-off land, they could not live in a shabby residence. That was why, with zero connections and credibility, they had to put up with paying for the entirety of the lease at several times the market price.
Having arrived at such a residence and entering through the front door, there was someone who was there to welcome him. Wearing a white dress, it was battle maid Solution Epsilon under Sebas’ direct command. Although there were other inhabitants like the Shadow Demon and Gargoyle, they did not come to receive him because they were placed as guards.
Solution’s words stopped along with her head in mid bow. Her eyes were colder than usual as she stared at what was in Sebas’ arms.
“…Sebas-sama. What is that?”
“I’ve picked her up.”
Solution did not say anything to his short reply. However, the atmosphere grew heavy.
“…Is that so. Though it does not look to be a present for me, what are you planning to do with it?”
“I’m uncertain. Could you first treat her wounds?”
“Wounds you say…”
After looking over the girl’s condition, Solution nodded her head as if convinced and stared at Sebas.
“Then could you not have dropped her off at the temple?”
“…But of course. Truly, the thought must have escaped me.”
Solution narrowed her eyes and stared coldly at Sebas who would not even give an inch. For the briefest of moments, their eyes locked, and the one who looked away first was Solution.
“Shall I throw it out?”
“No. Since I already went through the trouble of bringing her here, we may as well come up with a way to put her to good use.”
Solution was never one for many expressions, but her current face was truly like that of a mask.
Even Sebas could not recognize the emotion that was filling her eyes. Only that she did not at all welcome the current situation. It was so obvious that you could almost touch with your hands.
“First, could you perform a diagnosis of her physical condition?”
“Understood, I will do so immediately.”
“No, right here is a bit…”
Although Solution may deem it trivial, it probably should not be done near the entrance.
“We have an empty room so may I ask you to perform it there?”
Solution nodded without a word.
There were no words spoken between them as the girl was moved from the entrance to the guest room. Although neither Solution nor Sebas were the type to partake in needless chatter, even more so, an ambiguous atmosphere flowed between them.
Solution opened the guest room door since Sebas was using both hands to carry the girl.
Despite the thick curtain darkening the room, the air did not feel stuffy in the least. The air was fresh because the door had been opened many times and the interior was kept immaculate.
Sebas stepped inside, small rays of moonlight shining through the slips in the curtains. He laid the girl on top of the bed’s clean sheets.
Although he tried his best to heal her by pouring in his Ki, the unmoving body looked like a corpse.
Solution nonchalantly tore off the cloth wrapped around the girl, revealing her ragged limbs.
Though it was a cruel appearance that should have invited pity, there was no change in Solution’s expression. Her eyes reflected nothing but dull indifference.
“…Solution, I will leave the rest to you.”
Sebas left her with only those words and exited the room. Solution did not bother to stop him as she began to check the girl’s condition.
After stepping out into the hallway, Sebas muttered quietly so that it would not reach Solution’s ears.
“A foolish endeavor.”
Sebas unwittingly stroked his beard. Why did he save her? He himself could not explain clearly.
Perhaps this is what it means for a hunter to not slay a bird that came to him of its own accord.
No, that wasn’t it. Why did he save her?
As the butler who was also tasked with the role of house steward, his allegiance was with the 41 Supreme Beings. At present, his guild leader, the one who took on the name of Ainz Ooal Gown was the being whom he owed the entirety of his allegiance.
There was not even a shadow of falsehood in his loyalty. He believed that he had always served diligently and would not hesitate to lay down his life in service.
However— if he had to pledge his loyalty to only one among the 41 Supreme Beings, Sebas would choose without hesitation. Touch Me.
He was Sebas’ creator and the strongest existence of ‘Ainz Ooal Gown’, holder of the World Champion class and in a different league altogether.
As part of the first nine, he gathered the original members of Ainz Ooal Gown before it grew in power through every possible means, including PK.
No one would believe it if they were told that his reason was to help the weak. However, it was the truth.
He helped Momonga when he was about to quit the game in frustration from being PKed continuously. When Simmering Teapot could not find a party to adventure with because of her appearance, he was the one who approached her first.
The thoughts that person left behind became the invisible chains wrapping around Sebas.
“Could this be a curse…?”
What vile words. If a different person from Ainz Ooal Gown— a member of Nazarick created by the 41 Supreme Beings— had heard him, they may have called him a blasphemer and attacked.
『 Feeling pity for a being who is not of Nazarick is unacceptable. 』
Those words were most obvious.
With a few exceptions— those whose settings were established to be such by the 41 Supreme Beings, head maid Pestonya S. Wanko for example— excluding people like her, the members of Nazarick all believed that those who do not belong with Ainz Ooal Gown should immediately be cast out.
For instance, he had heard from one of Solution’s reports that a member of Battle Maid Pleiades, Lupusregina, was on friendly terms with a girl from Carne village. But he knew very well that depending on the situation, Lupusregina would abandon her without a second thought.
It was not because she was heartless.
An order from the Supreme Beings to die meant that you must die. Likewise, even if she was a friend, an order to kill her would be carried out swiftly. That was true loyalty. A fellow denizen who did not understand this would be looked on with pity.
Judging humans with useless sentiment, that in itself was unacceptable.
Then what about him? Was his current course of action acceptable?
As Sebas bit his lips, Solution walked out through the door. Her face was emotionless per usual.
“How is she?”
“… On top of syphilis, she has two other venereal diseases. Several of her ribs are cracked, as well as her fingers. The tendons in her right arm and left leg have been severed and she is missing her top and bottom front teeth. It appears that her internal organs are failing as well. There are lacerations in her anus and it is possible that she is addicted to some drug. She has countless contusions and cuts on her body. Considering her current state, I believe that I can leave out the rest…. Would you like me to explain further?”
“No, there is no need. There is only one thing that is important. —Can she be healed?”
Sebas had expected her prompt answer.
Using a healing ability can fix even amputations. If Sebas were to use his qigong, it would also be easy to completely fix bodily injuries. In truth, if he wanted, he could have easily healed the old woman’s sprained ankle on the spot. He did not do so in order to save it for emergencies and to prevent leaking information.
But even if qigong helped recover one’s strength, it could not heal poisons or diseases. Sebas never learned such skills. That was why he needed Solution’s help for the recovery.
“Then I will leave it to you.”
“Would it not be better to call for Pestonya-sama for healing magic?”
“That will not be necessary. Solution, I believe you have a healing scroll?”
Confirming that Solution nodded her head, Sebas continued.
“Then please use that.”
“…Sebas-sama. This scroll was given to us by the Supreme Beings. I believe that it should not be used on the likes of humans.”
It was a reasonable argument. He had to consider a different method. First, heal her injuries and save her from the danger of death. They could then heal the poisons and diseases at a later time. However, he was not certain that they could afford to delay. If it were the poisons and diseases that was killing her, endlessly restoring her health would prove useless.
After some hesitation, in the end, he spoke to Solution in a steely voice that would not betray his inner thoughts.
Solution’s eyes narrowed and at the same time, something dark red stirred within her pupils. But that change could not be verified any further due to Solution bowing her head.
“…I will carry out your order. Restoring her to normal condition— in other words, will it be fine to restore her body to the state before the injuries were inflicted on her?”
Seeing Sebas give his affirmation, Solution courteously bowed her head.
“I will begin immediately.”
“And once her treatment is finished, will you please fill the tub with water and bathe her? I will leave to purchase a meal.”
There was no one in this residence who needed meals or could cook. And as long as they did not have an extra of the magic item that rendered meals unnecessary, the girl’s meals had to be prepared.
“…Sebas-sama, although it is easy to heal her bodily wounds… I cannot heal her mind.”
Solution’s words came to a stop, and after a brief pause, she stared intently at Sebas and asked.
“I feel that calling Ainz-sama will be the best way to heal her mind. Will you not do so?”
“...This is not a matter significant enough to warrant contacting him. There should not be a problem even if we leave her mind as is.”
Solution bowed deeply. She silently opened the door to the room and stepped inside. Sebas watched her go and then slowly leaned his back to the wall.
What to do about the girl—.
Once she’s healed— while the man escapes, release her at a place of her own choosing. That was the best way. At the very least, it should be somewhere far from the capital. Releasing her here was both dangerous and cruel. It would be no different than not rescuing her in the first place.
But for Sebas Tian, the butler of the Great Tomb of Nazarick, was that really the right course of action?
Sebas breathed a heavy sigh.
How comfortable would he feel if he could expel everything that was mounting in his mind, just like this sigh? But nothing had changed. His mind fell into confusion and his thinking was filled with noise.
“Foolish, all because of one human…”
Rather than asking questions that he could not answer, he had to start simple. Although it would only serve to buy him time, from his point of view, this was the best course of action in his current situation.
♦ ♦ ♦
Solution changed the shape of her skinny fingers. They grew longer and transformed into tendrils that were about a few millimeters thick. Originally, Solution was a formless slime and could drastically alter her outer appearance. Something like transforming the tip of her hands was simple.
She glanced over at the door and having keenly sensed that Sebas’ presence had disappeared outside, quietly walked over to the girl lying on the bed.
“Since Sebas-sama has given his permission, I will finish this bothersome task as quickly as possible. That would be in your best interest as well. You probably will not even be awake through it.”
Solution spread her palm and pulled out the scroll that she kept stored in her body.
This scroll wasn’t the only thing Solution kept in her body. On top of consumable magic items like the scroll, she also had various weapons and armor. Considering that she could easily swallow several humans, something like that was not out of the norm.
Solution stared at the unconscious girl.
She had no interest in the girl’s appearance. Rather, only one thought crossed her mind.
This human did not look tasty.
The empty shell of a body did not seem like it would thrash around very much even if she were to melt it with acid.
“Though I could understand his actions if he wanted to give this to me as a toy after it recovered…”
Knowing his personality, she knew he would not allow it. Aside from when they were attacked during their travels, Sebas, the boss of Battle Maid Pleiades would never permit feeding on humans.
“If the Supreme Being had ordered that the girl be saved, I would have no choice but to accept it... But are the likes of humans truly worth saving even at the cost of a valuable treasure granted by the Supreme Being?”
Solution shook her head and thought out loud.
“…I may just devour you before Sebas-sama returns.”
She released the seal and opened the scroll. The magic contained within it was ‘Heal’, a tier 6 healing spell that greatly restored health and removed bad status effects like diseases.
A normal scroll could only be used if the person possessed a class that could use the same branch of magic as the scroll. In other words, in order to use a scroll of a faith based magic caster like a priest, one had to obtain a faith based class. To explain further, the spell had to exist on the list of learnable magic for that class. However, some thief based classes have a skill that can disguise this list and deceive the scroll.
As an assassin, Solution possessed several thief based classes. It was why she was able to use the ‘Heal’ scroll that she would normally be barred from.
“First, put her into a coma just in case, then…”
Solution used a skill to combine a powerful poison that induced sleep and a muscle relaxing poison. She then moved to cover the girl’s body.
♦ ♦ ♦
Mid Fire Month (8th Month, Day 26, 19:37
Sebas returned with the meal just as Solution stepped out of the room. She held a steaming bucket of water in both hands, with several towels in each bucket.
The water in both buckets was dark and the towels were dirty as well, showing just what sort of unsanitary conditions the girl lived in.
“You’ve worked hard. The recovery… it seems that it was completed without a hitch.”
“Yes, there were no problems, only that there was no suitable clothing for her so I changed her into whatever we had on hand. Was that acceptable?”
“Of course, it does not matter.”
“Is that so… The effects of the sleeping poison should have worn off by now. … If there is nothing else then I will take my leave.”
“Good work, Solution.”
Solution bowed and walked past Sebas.
Sebas saw her off, and then knocked on the door. Although there was no reply, he felt movement from within and quietly opened the door.
Inside, a girl was sitting up on the bed. She wore a vacant expression, as if she had woken only recently.
She was truly unrecognizable.
The dirty and withered blonde hair now shined with a beautiful luster. In that short amount of time, her sunken, scrawny face had been vitalized and regained its original appearance. Her once shriveled, cracked lips now shone with a pink glint.
To describe her appearance as a whole, rather than calling her beautiful, it was more fitting to call her as a girl who possessed an adorable charm.
It was also easy to get a general idea of her age. Although she looked like she should be in her late teens, her hellish daily life gave her face a dignity that extended past her years.
Solution had put her into a white negligee. However, it was of a simple design, lacking the usual laces and frills that were the norm.
“You should have recovered completely, but how is your condition?”
There was no reply. Her vacant eyes did not show any signs of looking in his direction.
However, as if he did not take that to heart, Sebas waited for her to speak. No, he did not expect much from the beginning. He had realized that her vacant expression was that of a person whose heart was no longer here.
“Are you hungry? I’ve brought you a meal.”
He had purchased it from a restaurant, bowl and all.
The wooden bowl held a stew that was made from slightly seasoned meat broth. The oil added to the stew to accentuate its scent released a smell that stimulated the appetite.
Her face moved slightly, responding to the smell.
“Please help yourself.”
Sebas thought that she had not yet completely walled herself off in her own world. He held out the bowl along with the wooden spoon in front of her.
Even when the girl did not move, Sebas did not try to force her.
After a certain amount of time had passed, enough to make others feel anxious, the girl slowly moved her arm. Her movement was nervous, one that feared pain. Even if her injuries had been healed completely, the memory of the pain remained untouched.
She held the wooden spoon and lifted a small amount of the stew. She then brought it to her mouth and swallowed.
The stew was watery and thin. Sebas had intentionally ordered it to be prepared that way, thinly slicing fourteen types of ingredients and cooking them for a long time so that there would not be a need to chew.
Her throat moved and the stew traveled down into her stomach.
The girl’s eyes moved ever so slightly. That tiniest of movements was the transformation from an elaborate doll to a human being. Her other hand moved, trembling as it accepted the bowl from Sebas.
While carrying the bowl, Sebas moved it to the place where she seemed to want it placed.
The girl stuck the wooden spoon into the stew, hugging the bowl closer to her with her other arm, and ate with an overflowing vigor.
She ate so fast that if the stew had not been cooled to be just right, she would definitely have screamed out in pain from the burns. The girl did not even seem to mind that the chest area of her negligee was being dirtied by the stew trailing out of her mouth. It would have been more fitting to say that she was drinking it, rather than eating it.
After finishing the stew blindingly quickly, the girl drew the empty bowl close and breathed out a sigh.
Having returned to being human, her eyes shut heavily.
The feeling of being full, the clean and soft clothes, the softness that had returned to her body, all of these synergized together to relax her mind and began allowing her body to accept the feeling of drowsiness.
But as her eyelids began to form a line, in the next moment, the girl opened her eyes wide and cowered in fear.
Perhaps she was scared to close her eyes, or maybe she feared that her current situation would vanish like an illusion. Or perhaps she had another reason, Sebas, who was watching her by her side, could not tell. Perhaps she herself did not know the reason.
That was why Sebas spoke to her in a gentle voice in an attempt to calm her.
“Your body is seeking rest. Do not push yourself and sleep. I guarantee that you are in no danger here. You will still be in this bed when you open your eyes.”
For the first time, the girl’s eyes moved and stared directly at Sebas.
There was barely any light in her blue eyes; no strength could be felt from them. Only that they were no longer the eyes of the dead, but the living.
Her mouth parted slightly and— closed. She opened her mouth once more and— again, closed.
That was repeated several times over. Sebas watched gently and did not try to pressure her. He merely stared in silence.
At last, the lips parted and a tiny voice leaked through. The words that followed came quickly.
Her first words were those of thanks rather than questions about her current situation. Having caught a glimpse of her personality, Sebas smiled, not the fake one that he wore so often, but a genuine smile.
“Please do not worry about it. Now that I have brought you under my wing, I will guarantee your safety to the best of my ability.”
The girl’s eyes widened slightly, her lips trembling.
Her blue eyes grew wet and spilled drops of tears. She then opened her mouth wide and cried like something was released inside of her.
At last, her curse spilled out, mixed in with the sound of sobbing.
She cursed her own fate; she hated the one up above who dealt her such a hand. She resented the fact that up until now, no one had bothered to help her. That feeling of resentment then turned to Sebas.
Why didn’t he come to her sooner?
Sebas’ kindness— because she was treated as a human, everything that she had been enduring all this time had come crumbling down. No, it would be better to say that because she regained her human heart, she could no longer endure all of those memories.
The girl pulled at her head. With a tearing sound, strands of her hair were ripped free. Countless gold threads became entangled around her thin fingers. The bowl that carried the stew fell off the bed along with the spoon.
Sebas watched over her madness without a word.
Her resentment was sudden and clumsy, she was pushing herself. Depending on the person, they may have found her resentment offensive and raged at her. However, there was no anger in Sebas’ expression. Instead, his wrinkled face carried something akin to benevolence.
Sebas reached out and pulled her into his arms.
Like a father hugging his child, an affectionate embrace with no ill intentions.
Although her body momentarily stiffened, the embrace that was different from those of the men who lusted after her slightly relaxed her frozen body.
“It’s okay now.”
He softly patted her on the back as he repeated those words like a chant, like consoling a crying child.
A hiccup— and as if she were trying to cling onto Sebas’ words, the girl planted her face into his chest and cried even louder. However, that cry was different than the one from before.
♦ ♦ ♦
As time passed and Sebas’ chest became completely damp with the girl’s tears, the sound of her cries finally came to a rest. The girl slowly separated herself from Sebas and lowered her head in an attempt to hide her bright red face.
“Please do not let it bother you. It is a great honor for a man to lend his chest to a crying woman.”
Sebas pulled out a freshly washed handkerchief and handed it to the girl.
“Please use this.”
“But… it’s so clean… if… I…”
Sebas held the stammering girl’s chin and raised her face. While the girl grew stiff as she wondered what was going to happen, he gently brought the handkerchief to her remaining tear marks.
This reminds me; Solution just recently used ‘Message’ and had a long conversation with Shalltear... It seems she was boasting about how Ainz-sama wiped away her tears.
He wondered just what sort of situation would end up with Ainz-sama doing such a thing. He was unable to even picture the image of Shalltear crying. Despite his confusion, Sebas did not stop his hands and finished wiping the tears from the girl’s face.
“There, please use it.”
Sebas closed the girl’s hand around the now slightly damp handkerchief.
“A handkerchief that cannot be used is a sad one indeed, especially one that cannot even wipe away a person’s tears.”
Sebas smiled and stepped away from the girl.
“Now, please get plenty of rest. Let us discuss what to do from now on once you awake.”
Because anything was possible with magic, her injuries were healed through Solution’s treatment and all of her mental fatigue was gone. That was why she should now be able to move normally. However, it was only a few hours ago that she was in hell. There was a concern that talking for too long may cause her mental injuries to reopen.
In reality, like how she cried just recently, the girl’s mind was still unstable. Although magic could temporarily heal her mind, it did not treat the root of the problem. Unlike bodily wounds, it was not possible to treat injuries that were not plain to see.
Among the people Sebas knew, the only one who could completely heal an injury of the mind was his master and possibly Pestonya.
Even though Sebas tried to get the girl to rest, she hurriedly opened her mouth.
“From… now on?”
Sebas briefly hesitated over whether it was alright to keep conversing like this. But since the person in question wished to talk, he decided to continue the conversation while keeping a close eye on her condition.
“You would no doubt be too nervous to remain in the capital. Do you have a place that you can trust?”
The girl lowered her face.
He did not bother to state the obvious. She did not.
—This has become quite troublesome.
However, it was not as if they had to take action immediately. The man from before should not be caught any time soon, and it should take some time for the search to arrive at Sebas.
Although that may just be wishful thinking, he wanted to believe that there was no reason to panic. At the very least, not until the girl regained her health.
“Then, let’s see. First, could you tell me your name?”
“Ah… I’m… Ts… Tsuare.”
“Tsuare, then. Ah, I still have not given my name. My name is Sebas Tian, please call me Sebas. I serve the master of this mansion, Lady Solution.”
That was their setting.
Although Solution wore the white dress instead of the usual maid uniform in case of sudden visitors, while the girl was here, it would be necessary that he have her maintain the role of the master.
“Yes. Solution Epsilon-sama. But I do not think that you will have that many opportunities to see her.”
“She is quite picky.”
As if to indicate that he could say no more, Sebas closed his mouth. And after a brief moment of silence had passed, he spoke.
“Now, rest for today. We can save the discussion for what you will do next for tomorrow.”
After confirming that Tsuare had laid down on the bed, Sebas picked up the bowl that had carried the stew and left the room.
When he opened the door, as expected, Solution stood outside. Although it was most likely to eavesdrop, Sebas did not go out of his way to admonish her. Solution as well, she showed no signs that the possibility she could be scolded even existed. That was why she simply stood outside without hiding her presence or her body. If she truly wanted to hide, as an assassin class, she would have concealed herself more skillfully.
“What is it?”
“…Sebas-sama. In the end, what will you do with that?”
Sebas directed his senses to the door behind him. Even if it was shut tight, it did not block out sound completely. Some of what is said here would be overheard.
Sebas walked on with Solution wordlessly following him from behind.
He stopped where Tsuare would not be able to hear them.
“…You are talking about Tsuare I see. For now, I am planning to make the decision tomorrow.”
She did not continue, but as if she made up her mind, Solution opened her mouth once more.
“Although it may not be my place to say, there is a very high chance that that thing will become an obstacle. It needs to be disposed of as soon as possible.”
What did she mean when she said dispose?
Hearing Solution’s heartless words, Sebas thought that it was to be expected. This was Nazarick— for one who served the 41 Supreme Beings, it was the soundest way of thinking when it came to those who did not belong with Nazarick. Sebas’ actions were what was strange.
“You are right. If she were to become an obstacle to Ainz-sama’s orders, then she would have to be dealt with swiftly.”
Solution looked at him strangely. It was a face that was asking why he had brought her if he already knew.
“She may prove useful to us. Since I already picked her up, I need to think of a way to put her to good use rather than simply throwing her away.”
“…Sebas-sama, I do not know your reasons for bringing that with you. However, those injuries mean that there are circumstances that followed. And I doubt that the ones who inflicted those injuries will look kindly on the fact that the thing is still alive.”
“There will not be any problems on that front.”
“…Do you mean that you’ve already taken care of them?”
“No, that’s not it. Only that should it appear that there will be a problem, I will use a certain method. That is why I wish for us to maintain appearances until then. Do you understand, Solution?”
“….I will carry out your order.”
As Solution watched Sebas walk away, she suppressed the small anger rising within her.
Having been told as much by Sebas, her immediate superior, she couldn’t speak out against him despite her numerous complaints. And if no problems arose, then it would be of no consequence if the matter was overlooked.
But even so—
“How could he use the property of Nazarick on the likes of a human…”
Everything in the Great Tomb of Nazarick belonged to Ainz Ooal Gown and by extension, to the Supreme Beings. Could using them without permission be tolerated?
No matter how much she thought it over, the answer did not come.
♦ ♦ ♦
Lower Fire Month (9th Month), Day 3, 9:48
Sebas opened the door to the residence. He was returning from his usual duty of visiting the Adventurer’s guild early in the morning to make note of the requests that had been put up before the adventurers could accept them.
He recorded every piece of information on paper, even rumors circulating around town, and delivered all of them to Nazarick. Analyzing the contents proved quite difficult and was left to the sages in Nazarick.
He passed through the door and stepped inside the residence. If this was a few days ago, Solution would have been there to greet him. However—
“Wel…come… back... Seba…-sama.”
Currently, that task was given to the muttering girl wearing a maid uniform that extended all the way down to her feet.
The day after taking in Tsuare, they held a discussion and decided to have the girl work at the residence.
Although they could have her stay as a guest, Tsuare was against it. She did not want to be treated as a guest on top of being given help. Even if it wouldn’t be enough to repay them, at the very least, she wanted to work.
Sebas saw that the other side of her motive lied in her anxiety.
In other words, she knew very well that her dangerous circumstances will soon bring a troublesome incident to this residence. She was trying her best to contribute so she would not be thrown away.
Needless to say, Sebas had reassured Tsuare that he would never abandon her. If he was going to throw out someone who had nowhere else to go, he would never have brought her with him in the first place. However, it was also true that he was not convincing enough to heal the wounds of her heart.
“I’ve returned, Tsuare. Were there any problems?”
Tsuare shook her head.
Different from when they first met, the white brim on top of her neatly cut hair wobbled.
“There… no… problems.”
“I see, that’s good.”
The atmosphere around her was still dark and her difficult expression remained unchanging.
However, her voice sounded like it was gradually growing louder, as if the thing that was eating away at her body was becoming undone, little by little.
Then the only problem remaining would be…
As Sebas walked onwards, Tsuare followed beside him.
To walk next to the butler, Sebas— a direct superior, it was an unacceptable behavior for a maid. But Tsuare would be ignorant of the maid etiquette, having never been educated as one. Sebas too, had no intention of teaching her that lifestyle.
“What is on the menu for today?”
“Yes. It’s…potato… stew.”
“I see. I am looking forward to it. Tsuare’s cooking is delicious, after all.”
At the words that Sebas spoke with a smile, Tsuare grew bright red and lowered her face while squeezing her maid apron with both hands.
“No, no, of course it’s true. It’s quite fortunate since I cannot cook whatsoever. But are you fine with the ingredients? Please tell me if you are missing something or have something that you wish for me to buy.”
“Yes. I will… check… next time… and tell… you.”
Although Tsuare could act normally in the house and with Sebas, she still showed an adverse reaction to the outside world. She could not handle any tasks that required her to leave the residence and as such, jobs like procuring ingredients fell to Sebas.
There was nothing lavish about Tsuare’s cooking. They were simple home-cooked meals.
For this reason, they did not need expensive ingredients and the shopping could be taken care of quickly. Sebas as well, he was able to learn about many different ingredients and managed to acquire information on the foods of this world. He considered it killing two birds with one stone.
All of a sudden, Sebas proposed an idea.
“…Shall we go buy them together?”
Tsuare’s face showed great surprise. Then, growing scared, she shook her head. Her complexion turned for the worse and she began to sweat heavily.
“No, I’m… kay.”
Sebas thought it was to be expected and did not let it show on his face.
Ever since she started working, Tsuare never tried to do the tasks that required her to go outside. She locked up her terror by regarding this residence as the absolute castle walls that protected her. In other words, she was only able to move after drawing a line separating here and the outside— the world that hurt her.
However, at this rate Tsuare would never be able to step foot outside. And they could not hide her forever.
Considering Tsuare’s mental condition, Sebas knew that it was cruel to tell her to go outside after only a few days. The safer option would be to give her more time so she could slowly adapt.
However, that was for when they actually had the time to spare.
Sebas had no intention of settling down and spending the rest of his life in the capital. He would always be a stranger to this land, who was only here for information. If his master were to order that he withdraw…
In preparation for that day, he had to impart her with various possibilities while he still could.
Sebas stopped and stared directly at Tsuare. She blushed and tried to lower her gaze but he covered her cheek with his hand and raised her face.
“Tsuare, I fully know that you are frightened. But be assured that I, Sebas, will protect you. I will destroy any harm that may come your way.”
“Tsuare, place your foot forward. If you are scared then I do not mind even if you have your eyes closed.”
He grabbed Tsuare’s hand while she still hesitated and spoke the words that he knew would be mean to her.
“Do you not trust me, Tsuare?”
As time dragged on, a curtain of silence hanged heavily over the hallway. Tsuare’s eyes grew slightly wet as she parted her rosy lips, revealing her pearl-like front teeth.
“…Sebas-sama is un…fair. I can’t refuse if you say it… like that.”
“Please rest easy. Although I may not look it, I am quite strong. There are only a few apart from the 41 who are stronger than I.”
Tsuare giggled at the ambiguous number, believing it to be a joke to console her. Sebas simply chuckled and did not answer.
Sebas continued his stride. Although he knew that Tsuare was stealing glances at his profile, he did not mention it.
He knew that Tsuare held some tender feelings for him, one that could not quite be called love.
However, Sebas felt that those feelings were something that was indoctrinated into her, like a feeling of reliance for the benefactor who saved her from that hell.
Sebas was also an old man and it was possible that Tsuare was mistaking familial love with the love between a man and a woman.
And even if Tsuare truly loved Sebas, he had no intention of accepting her feelings. Not when he was hiding so much, not when their circumstances were so different.
“Then I will meet you after a few words with the lady.”
Tsuare’s expression darkened slightly. Although Sebas knew why, he did not say it.
Solution did not try to come in contact with Tsuare and when she did, would only give her a passing glance before leaving without a word. It was to be expected that being ignored to such a degree would create a feeling of anxiety and in Tsuare’s case, great fear.
“It’s alright. The lady has always been like that to everyone. She is not singling you out in particular… And I will only say it here, but the lady has quite a difficult personality, after all.”
As Sebas became overly talkative, the expression that was on Tsuare’s face softened slightly.
“She becomes sulky if she sees a cute child.”
“…I’m… not… compared…to her.”
Tsuare hurriedly waved her two hands.
Although it was true that Tsuare was pretty, she was still no match for Solution. However, what is beautiful and what is not was different for everyone.
“If I had to go by appearances, then Tsuare would be more my type than the lady.”
As he gently looked at Tsuare’s brightly lit face pointed towards her feet, his brows furrowed at her sudden change in expression.
“And… my body… dirty…”
Sebas breathed an inward sigh from seeing Tsuare’s face make a complete change from before. He then spoke while staring ahead.
“Jewels are like that. Those without scratches are considered beautiful and valuable.”
Hearing his words, Tsuare’s expression darkened in an instant.
“However— humans are not jewels.”
It looked as if Tsuare slightly raised her face.
“It seems that Tsuare wishes to keep telling herself that she is dirty. But wherein lies a human’s beauty? For a jewel, it can be appraised with certainty. But the beauty of a human— what is the standard? Is it the average? The general consensus? If so, would the minority opinion be considered meaningless?”
After a brief pause, Sebas continued.
“Like how people have their own definition of what they consider beautiful, ‘I’ believe that if a person’s beauty lies separate from their appearance, it is not in their past, but their heart. Although I do not know all of your history, from what I have sensed of your inner self for these past few days spent with you, I do not consider you dirty in the slightest.”
Sebas closed his mouth and the world changed to one where the only sound was of their footsteps. In the midst of it, Tsuare spoke with determination.
“…If you say I’m… beautiful… then please… hug…”
Sebas did not let her finish and embraced her.
“You are beautiful.”
As he spoke gently, silent tears flowed out of Tsuare’s eyes. Sebas softly patted her back as to console her and slowly parted.
“Tsuare, my apologies. The lady calls.”
With a sad goodbye from Tsuare and her red eyes, Sebas knocked on the door and opened it without even waiting for a response. As he closed the door behind him, he gave Tsuare who was still glancing at him a smile.
Because the house was rented, despite having many rooms, there was barely any furniture.
However, this room was decorated enough to not be embarrassed when accepting guests. But a person with a discerning eye would be able to recognize the lack of history and the shallowness of the room.
“Milady, I have just returned.”
“…Good work, Sebas.”
The fake master of the residence sat on a lengthy sofa while wearing a bored expression. In reality, that expression was an act. Because of the presence of the outsider named Tsuare, she was donning the foolish mask of a proud lady.
Solution moved her gaze from Sebas to the door.
“It seems that way.”
While scanning each other’s faces, like usual, Solution was the first to open her mouth.
“When will you drive her out?”
This was what Solution asked every time they met. And like every time, Sebas gave the same reply.
“When the time comes.”
If it were like usual, the conversation would have been finished. Solution would sigh and that would have been it. However, today, Solution did not seem to want to leave it at that and continued.
“…Could you clearly explain when this time you speak of will be? There is no guarantee that hiding that human will not lead to a troublesome incident. Will that not interfere with Ainz-sama’s will?”
“There still has not been any incidents thus far. …To think that you would panic because you fear what some humans might do, that is not appropriate behavior for one who serves Ainz-sama.”
A silence permeated between them and Sebas breathed a small sigh.
This was a very dangerous situation.
Although there was no emotion on Solution’s face, Sebas could feel that she was angry with him. Even if this residence was only a base of operations, Solution still considered it as a branch of the Great Tomb of Nazarick. She could not condone the presence of a human that did not have the master’s permission.
Solution did not try to attack Tsuare thus far because Sebas was firmly keeping her in check. However, if this continued, it would become impossible for him to control her in the near future.
Sebas dwelled on the fact that he was running out of time.
“…Sebas-sama. If that human becomes an obstacle to Ainz-sama’s orders then—“
“She will be disposed of.”
Sebas assured her as to not let her finish the rest of her words. Solution closed her mouth and stared at Sebas with unreadable eyes, then bowed her head.
“Then I have nothing else that needs to be said. Sebas-sama, please don’t forget your words just now.”
“Of course, Solution.”
The emotion in Solution’s mutter was strong enough to stop Sebas in his tracks.
“…However, Sebas-sama. Is it alright to not report to Ainz-sama? About that thing.”
Sebas fell silent for a few seconds, and then replied.
“There will not be any problems. It would be discourteous to rob Ainz-sama of his time for one human.”
“…Entoma and the others should be communicating with you via 『Message』daily at the appointed time. Could you not simply say a few words on the matter then? …Are you intentionally hiding it?”
“Of course not. I would not do something like that to Ainz-sa—.”
“Then… you are not acting out of your own self-interest?”
The air became tense.
Sebas realized that Solution had slightly readied herself into a stance. He understood just how dangerous of a position he was in.
Every member of Nazarick pledged absolute loyalty to ‘Ainz Ooal Gown’ —and by extension, the Supreme Beings. With the Guardians at the helm, it would not be an exaggeration to say that every single member was in agreement of that creed. Even the assistant butler, Éclair, who wants to conquer Nazarick for his own, was loyal to the 41 Supreme Beings and regarded them with respect.
Needless to say, Sebas was one of them.
However, he still believed that it was wrong to cast out a pitiable existence because of mere possibilities. Although with that said, he also knew very well that the majority of Nazarick would not agree with him.
No, he thought he knew. Solution’s reaction revealed just how shallow his understanding had been.
Solution was serious. She was prepared to meet Sebas the butler— in other words, her superior in regards to the daily workings of Nazarick and one of the strongest in close combat, with force depending on his answer. He had no idea that Solution was prepared to go that far to erase the problem.
—Sebas showed a smile.
From his smile, Solution’s eyes looked at him strangely.
“…Of course not. The reason I am not reporting this to Ainz-sama is not because of my own selfishness.”
“Then can you show the basis for your actions?”
“I hold her cooking skill in high regard.”
“Cooking... you say?”
It looked as if question marks were hovering over Solution’s head.
“Indeed. And would it not appear strange to others if there were only two people living in this large mansion?”
“…That is possible.”
Solution had no choice but to concede on that point. Not having servants while living a life of luxury in a large residence would definitely appear odd.
“I feel that at the very least, we should have one at least one servant with us. If we were to invite guests to the house, would it not be suspicious if we cannot even serve them a meal?
“… In other words, you are using that human as a part of our disguise?”
“But there is no need for it to be that human specifically.”
“Tsuare feels indebted to me. That means she would never leak information even if she feels endangered. Am I wrong?”
Very briefly, Solution thought it over, nodding soon after.
“You are right.”
“That’s how it is. There should be no need to ask for Ainz-sama’s permission if the matter is only regarding our cover. Not only that, he may even become angry and tell us to handle such matters on our own.”
Sebas quietly asked Solution, who was remaining silent.
“Do you understand now?”
“Then this should be enough for no—.”
Sebas cut his words short. He had heard a sound, like two hard objects colliding with one another.
It was so subtle that anyone but Sebas might have missed it.
The erratic repetition of the noise confirmed that someone was doing it on purpose.
Sebas opened the door to the room and focused his senses toward the end of the hallway.
They both froze, realizing that the sound came from the knocker at the front door. Since they first arrived in the Kingdom, no one had ever knocked on that door. Any dealings they had were always done outside and invited no one to their residence. It was a desperate measure to prevent others from finding out that only two people were living in this large mansion.
But today, they had visitors. It would be more than enough to cause a troublesome incident.
Sebas left Solution in the room and walked up to the entrance. He opened the cover of the prop-up window attached to the front door.
What he saw through the hole was a man with wide shoulders surrounded on both sides by the Kingdom’s soldiers.
The man with the wide shoulders was dressed decently well. On his chest, he wore a heavy crest that shone with the glint of copper metal. The healthy complexion of his face was padded with blubber and he was remarkably fat, perhaps due to his eating habits.
And lastly— there was a man who seemed different from the rest.
His skin was pale, like it had never been exposed to sunlight. With sharp eyes and gaunt cheeks, he looked like a bird of prey— like the scavengers that ravaged rotten carcasses. His black clothes hung loosely on him, making it obvious that he was hiding weapons.
What irritated Sebas’ sixth sense was the air of blood and grudges that hovered around him.
They were truly a mismatched group lacking cohesion. Sebas could not determine their identity or their objective.
“…Who is it?”
“I am patrol officer Stafan Hevish.”
The plump man at the very front spoke in a high pitched voice and revealed his name.
He was a patrol officer, a civil servant tasked with keeping public order. A position similar to the boss of the normal patrols that made their rounds around the city, their duties included a wide range of categories. Because of this, Sebas could not predict why this man named Stafan had decided to pay a visit and became troubled.
Ignoring Sebas, Stafan continued to speak.
“The Kingdom has a law that bans the buying and selling of slaves. It was spearheaded by Princess Renner who drew up the plans which allowed it to pass. We received a report that the people of this residence may be holding this law in contempt and came to investigate.”
He then finished by asking if he could step inside.
Although Sebas thought of various words of rejection, denying them entry could escalate into a bigger problem. There was also no guarantee that Stafan was a real civil servant. Despite the fact that the Kingdom’s civil servants did indeed wear the same crest as the one on Stafan’s chest. However, that still was not an absolute guarantee. There was still a chance —although it was a great crime— that it was a forgery.
With that said, allowing a few humans into the residence would not pose too big of a problem. If it came to blows then Sebas could easily take care of it. In fact, it would better if they were imposters.
Gleaning something from the silence that formed while Sebas was thinking, Stafan opened his mouth a second time.
“May I speak to the master of this residence? Of course, if the master is not present then it can’t be helped. But I don’t think investigators going back empty-handed will be a favorable outcome.”
Stafan smiled with a face that did not carry even a hint of apology. Hidden behind that expression was a threat backed by the power of the law.
“Before that, I have something I’d like to ask you. Who is the man standing behind you?”
“Hmm? His name is Succulent. He’s a representative of the store that filed the report.”
“My name is Succulent. Pleasure making your acquaintance.”
Seeing the faint smile on Succulent’s face, Sebas understood that he had lost.
His smile was that of a cruel hunter mocking his prey for falling into his trap. It was safe to assume that he had come after perfect preparations. In that sense, there was a good chance that Stafan was indeed a real civil servant. He most likely also had a plan prepared should Sebas refuse them. Then at the very least, Sebas had to try and figure out the opponent’s intentions.
“…I understand. I will deliver the news to the lady. Please wait there for a while.”
“Of course, we’ll wait.”
“But please make it quick. We don’t have the leisure of dallying.”
Succulent smiled and Stafan shrugged his shoulders.
“Understood. Then if you will excuse me.”
Sebas closed the cover and turned in the direction of Solution’s room. But before that, he would have to tell Tsuare to go hide deeper inside—.
With the soldiers left out by the door, the two people who were guided inside— Stafan and Succulent each wore an astonished face from seeing Solution.
They had not expected to meet such a beauty. Stafan’s expression slowly loosened and his eyes traveled back and forth between her face and chest. He swallowed his saliva, eyes filling with lust. On the other hand, Succulent’s face gradually grew hard.
To Sebas, it became obvious who he needed to be vigilant of. He offered the two the sofa opposite from Solution.
Solution who was already sitting and Stafan, who was just seated, Succulent introduced them.
“So, just what exactly is going on?”
At Solution’s question, Stafan faked a cough as he spoke.
“According to a report from a certain store, apparently, a certain individual dragged away their employee. As he did so, the individual unduly handed over money to a different employee. Buying slaves is outlawed in our country… don’t you think that what this person did was illegal?”
Stafan’s shoulders grew increasingly tense, as if he was slowly becoming angry. Solution replied in a bored voice.
“Is that so?”
The attitude behind her response left the two men blinking. Although they were applying pressure, her behavior was completely unexpected.
“I leave all complicated matters to Sebas. Sebas, take care of the rest.”
“A-are you fine with that? Depending on how it turns out, you may be branded as a criminal.”
“My, how scary. Sebas, if it seems likely that I will become a criminal then do tell me. Then everyone, I bid you well.”
Solution said her goodbyes and left them with a bright smile. No one could say anything to her as she left the room. The power of a beauty’s smile was confirmed in that moment.
Before the sound of the door closing could ring out, they heard the astonished voices of the soldiers from seeing Solution.
“—then I will listen to what you have to say in her place.”
Sebas smiled and took a seat in front of the two men. Stafan’s behavior was awkward, still entranced by her smile. However, as if to cover for him, Succulent broke in.
“Alright, then mind if I ask you some questions? Like you’ve heard from Hevish–sama at the entrance, our… well, our employee has gone missing, you see. I interrogated a certain
someone and he says that he handed her over after receiving money. Though I don’t even want to imagine one of our employees doing something like that, I had no choice but to call the authorities.”
“That’s right. A dirty crime like slave trading will not be tolerated!”
He slammed down on the table.
“That’s why Succulent-kun here who called it in without fearing the store’s bad reputation spreading is quite the exemplary citizen!”
“Thank you, Hevish-sama.”
Succulent lowered his head to Stafan, who was speaking with such enthusiasm that he was spitting at the mouth.
What is with these theatrics?
Thinking so in his head, Sebas began to ponder. The two men in front of him were definitely working together. Then without a doubt, they made thorough preparations before commencing their attack. As such, his defeat was certain. The question then was how to minimize his losses.
And on the flip side, what was Sebas’ condition to emerge victorious in this situation?
The victory condition for Nazarick’s butler, Sebas, was to solve this problem without drawing further attention. It was not to protect Tsuare.
“I suspect that the man who claims to have received money could be lying. Where is he now?”
“He’s been arrested for dealing in slavery and is currently locked up in a cell. And the result from his testimony and our careful investigation is—“
“—that the one who purchased our employee is you, Sebas-san.”
It meant that the man was caught and had confessed to everything. There was a good chance that he was pressured to change his testimony so that it would benefit them.
Sebas was torn between whether to feign ignorance, lie, or deny it outright.
What if he said that she wasn’t in the residence? What if he said that he killed her?
Countless ideas ran through his mind but the possibility of them working was low. They would not retreat so easily. Though before that, he had to know one thing.
“But how did you come to the conclusion that it was me? Where is your proof?”
That was the part Sebas could not figure out. As long as he did not leave behind anything that would reveal his name or identity, there should not have been any evidence. Then how did they figure out this location? He was always careful of being followed whenever he was outside. He had trouble believing that someone who could tail him without him noticing existed in this city.
A flash ran through Sebas’ mind.
—The scroll that he bought from the Magician’s guild.
That scroll was definitely different from others in its impressive craftwork. Someone who knew what they looked like would recognize that his scroll was bought from the Magician’s guild. Then they could trace his steps and glean something out of it. A person dressed as a butler while carrying a scroll would be that much more conspicuous.
But even so, that still was not enough evidence to place Tsuare in this residence. He could argue that it was just someone who looked similar. The problem would be that things would get more complicated if they were to search the mansion. That’s right. They would be forced to admit that including Tsuare, only three people were living in this large mansion.
Sebas resigned himself.
“…It’s true that I brought the girl here with me. However, at that time the girl was severely injured and on the verge of death. I had no choice but to take her.”
“In other words you admit that you used money to trade for the girl?”
“Before that, may I speak with the man you arrested?”
“Unfortunately that will not be possible. We can’t have you two matching your stories.”
—I do not mind if you listen to our conversation.
As he was about to say so, Sebas closed his mouth.
In the end, this was a race that had been planned beforehand. There was little chance that the situation would improve even if he were to go to where the man was. Going on the offensive from this angle would only be a waste of time.
“…Then are you admitting to the fact that the girl was indeed a victim of those horrible injuries? From the government’s perspective, I feel that this would be considered worse—.”
“The work in our shop is pretty difficult. It can’t be helped if she were to get injured. You see that often with the mines and such, it’s the same.”
“…I do not think that the injuries you are talking about and hers are the same.”
“Hahaha, it’s the entertainment business but we get a lot of different customers. We try to be careful though. Well, I understand Sebas-san’s point. We will be a little— yes, a little more careful.”
“Well, yes. Anymore and it costs money, here and there.”
At Sebas’ question, Succulent wore a mocking smile, the kind where only the corners of the lips curl upwards.
Sebas too, responded with a smile.
Stafan sighed deeply, like he was dealing with an idiot.
“My duty is to check whether or not there was a transaction involving slaves. Checking on how workers are treated is for someone else. It seems that this incident was not connected to slavery.”
“…Then could you tell me the name of the civil servant who is in charge of the working conditions?”
“…Hmm, I’d like to tell you but it’s complicated. Unfortunately, someone who interferes with another’s work isn’t very popular.”
“…Then please wait until then.”
Stafan grinned, as if he was waiting for those words.
“…I wish I could do that, I really do. But since the report has already been made, I have to arrest you people and investigate as soon as possible, by force if necessary.”
In other words, he had no time.
“Even now, looking at the circumstantial evidence, it’s obvious that you’re guilty. But the store wants to resolve the matter cleanly. Of course, there will have to be compensation depending on the agreement. And it’ll also be a little costly to destroy the false written report about the slave trading.”
“What is the breakdown, exactly?”
“Well, you see, we’re going to need you to return our employee to us along with compensation for the profit loss during the time she was away.”
“I see, and how much would that be?”
“In gold coins… let’s see here. Well, I’ll give you a discount, a 100 gold pieces and an additional 300 for compensation, making it 400 in total. How’s that?”
“…Quite a fortune, how is that broken up? What type of work does she do on a given day? How much of it?”
At that moment, Stafan interrupted him.
“Ah, wait a moment. That shouldn’t be all of it, Succulent-kun.”
“Quite so, I almost forgot. You mentioned that since a report has been filed, destroying the entry will require a fee even if we reach a settlement.”
“Of course, Succulent-kun. You can’t forget that part.”
“No, it’s nothing.”
Sebas swallowed his words and smiled.
Succulent bowed his head to Stafan and continued his talk.
“Hmm, I apologize for that, Hevish-sama. Anyways, the fee will be a third of the compensation so a 100 pieces. In total, that will come out to 500 pieces.”
“I paid money back when I brought her here, is that part included as well?”
“What are you saying? Listen here, from the moment you agreed, you never bought a slave. In other words, the money involved in that transaction never existed. You probably dropped it somewhere.”
Did he expect Sebas to simply pretend that he dropped a hundred gold pieces? Well, they most likely already each took half.
“… However, the girl’s body still has not healed completely. If you try to take her with you now, she may suffer a relapse. There is also a chance that she may lose her life in the treatments to follow. I believe that it will be safer for her stay with us for the time being.”
Succulent’s eyes glinted oddly. Noticing his change, Sebas knew that he had made a mistake. He had revealed that Tsuare was important to him.
“Of course, of course, you’re right. If she died then you would obviously have to recompense us, then how about you lend us the lady of this house until her treatment is finished?”
“Ohhh! That’s a splendid idea. It goes without saying he should plug up the hole that he’s responsible for!”
The smile covering Stafan’s face was clearly filled with lust. He was probably already undressing Solution in his mind.
Sebas’ smile disappeared and his face became expressionless.
Although Succulent was probably joking, he will no doubt push for that idea if Sebas were to show a weak spot. From the moment that the fact he valued Tsuare was revealed, the possibility that this troublesome incident will grow bigger in the future was right before his eyes.
“…Won’t excessive greed lead to trouble?”
Stafan’s face became dyed red as he shouted loudly.
Like a pig to the slaughter.
Thinking so in his head, Sebas wordlessly watched Stafan.
“What do you mean greedy?! This is all born from my heart that only wishes to safeguard the law as established by the esteemed Princess Renner! How dare you be so disrespectful!”
“Now, now, calm down, Hevish-sama.”
As soon as Succulent intervened, the screaming Stafan immediately controlled his temper. That sudden change suggested that his previous anger was not genuine, only a ploy to appear more threatening.
Even your acting is clumsy.
Sebas thought so in his head.
“But still, Succulent-kun…”
“Hevish-sama, since we already said everything that we came here to say, how about we come back in two days to hear his reply? Will that be fine, Sebas-san?”
“Yes, I understand.”
With that, the discussion was over. Sebas saw them out to the entrance.
As the last to leave, Succulent smiled and said a few words to Sebas.
“But I should really thank that prostitute. I never expected for a merchandise that was about to be scrapped to lay this big of a golden egg… or so a certain someone says.”
Leaving those words behind, the door closed shut with a loud bang.
Sebas continued to stare at the door, as if it was invisible. His face was calm, not showing any emotion in particular. However, something was clearly present deep within his pupils.
He was angry.
—No, such a vague word did not accurately describe what he was feeling.
Fury, wrath, they would be more fitting.
The reason Succulent showed his true intentions as he left was because he had blocked off all avenues of escape, because Sebas had no way to respond— his own victory was certain.
“Solution, show yourself.”
In response to his voice, Solution emerged like water oozing out of shadow. She had used a skill from her assassin class to melt into the shadows.
“I assume that you heard our discussion.”
Sebas’ words were merely a confirmation. Solution nodded her head, as if it didn’t even need to be said.
“So what are you planning to do, Sebas-sama?”
He couldn’t answer her question immediately. His lack of a reply drew an obviously cold gaze from Solution.
“…Will you hand over the human and be done with the matter?”
“I doubt that the problem will be solved that way.”
“………Is that so?”
“If we show a weakness then they will come for more. They belong to that sort. The problem will not be solved even if we were to hand Tsuare over to them. The bigger problem is how much information they gleaned from investigating us. Although we came to the capital disguised as merchants, if they dig deeper and find a blind spot— they will know that our identities are fake.”
“Then what do you plan to do?”
“I do not know. I will go outside for a walk and think it over.”
Sebas opened the front door and stepped outside.
Solution silently watched Sebas as his back grew smaller in the distance.
If he had not brought that human with him, this series of incidents would never have occurred. With that said, that was all in the past. What was important was what to do from here on out.
As Sebas’ subordinate, she should not act arbitrarily while ignoring the words of her superior. However, it seemed that doing nothing and leaving the situation as is would be more dangerous.
If our youngest was here… if we moved as Pleiades then we wouldn’t have a problem…
She hesitated to the point where even she herself thought it was excessive.
Finally, she found her determination and opened her left hand.
A scroll jumped out of her hand, as if it were rising to the surface. It was a scroll that she had been storing in her body until now. Currently, thanks to Demiurge’s efforts, the day when mass production of low rank scrolls would become possible was nearly at hand. However, that was not the case back when Solution had been deployed and as such, this ‘Message’ scroll was given to her to be used only for emergencies. Solution had decided that the current situation required it.
She opened the scroll and activated the magic contained within. Now used up, the scroll crumbled to ash and completely vanished by the time it touched the ground.
In sync with the activation of the magic, Solution felt something like a string connecting her with her target and brought out her voice.
『Is this— Solution? What is it? Seeing how you were the one to contact me, is it an emergency? 』
For an instant, Solution fell silent. That time was born from her thinking of her loyalty to Sebas, considering the possibility that it was all her misunderstanding. However, her loyalty to Ainz was stronger than everything.
And although they were to always act in the interests of Nazarick, of the 41 Supreme Beings, it could be said that Sebas’ current situation ignored this creed.
For this reason, she opened her mouth to hear the judgment of her master.
“There is a chance that Sebas-sama has betrayed us.”
『Huh? …Ehhhh?! …Wait, no way… Hrrmph… enough with your jokes, Solution. To utter such words without proof is inexcusable… …. You have proof? 』
“Yes. Although it is not enough to be called proof—.”
Previous Chapter | Main Page | Next Chapter