Malecia drank his tea relaxedly and looked at Aries eating the choux cream they got from Asterium.
Feeling Malecia's gaze, Aries wiped the choux cream off his mouth with his sleeve. "Do you have something to say?"
Malecia smiled lightly, handed him a handkerchief familiarly, and said, "You seem relaxed for someone who just scolded your disciples, telling them to find it quickly."
Aries wiped the cream with a handkerchief rather than his sleeve and calmly answered, "You’re supposed to whip a racing horse. Since the place won’t disappear if we’re late in finding it, there’s no need to be tense."
In short, he only softly scolded them to work hard, and there was no problem even if it was found late.
"So, the disciples didn't have to look for it so hurriedly, did they?”
Malecia clearly expressed his dumbfoundedness, but Aries did not care about Malecia's response. "Well, that’s right. And I’m only expecting it to have appeared by now because it’s been a while since the tomb of the Holy Tribe’s last queen collapsed, but it may not have appeared yet."
As Aries explained further, Malecia felt sorry for the madosas currently spilling blood to carry out Aries's command. Didn’t that mean they were doggedly trying to find traces of a place that might not even exist?
"Well, if my calculations were correct, the seal should be rising up from all over the world by now, so it isn’t in vain."
"Doesn’t that mean that this is just a waste of time if the calculation is wrong?"
Aries nodded as if nothing was wrong. "That's how it is. I'm not a space magician, and dimensional magic is not my specialty. There's a good chance that the calculations will be incorrect."
After speaking, Aries casually continued eating the choux cream. "Mmm, it's good. Next time, get the one with the strawberry on top."
Even if the calculations were wrong and his disciples suffered in vain for a few days, the disciples would gladly accept it. Aries’s teachings were that important and precious to them. Aries was aware of this, so he gave the order casually. Malecia, unable to sympathize with the magician’s world, just found it interesting that the disciples did not resist.
Aries was eating choux cream diligently when he shook his head after much consideration. "No, as I thought, we'd better find it soon. This place is too close to those annoying Butterfly Tribe people. We'll monopolize it before Arpen discovers it."
Pure greed filled the usually indifferent Aries’s eyes. Then, a woman in a black hooded cloak burst into the mansion.
As soon as she saw Aries, she knelt down and shouted heatedly, "Please rejoice, Teacher! We have finally found a trail!"
Aries responded casually, "I see, Delta. Then, did you check where it was?"
Delta, kneeling on the floor, suddenly froze as her heated voice cooled sharply. "That, that is, to see if the trace was real or not, we haven’t....”
As Delta trailed off, Aries drank some tea and rinsed out the remaining cream flavor in his mouth. "How long has it been since you found the trace?"
"…It has been two days."
Aries quietly put down the teacup. The sound of the teacup clattering in the silence was deafening.
"To take two days, how incompetent." He spoke in a casual tone as if he were reviewing the taste of the choux cream.
"I'm sorry!" But for Delta, this normal voice seemed ferocious.
"It’s fine. Good job. You can leave."
As Aries lifted his fork without looking at Delta, Delta broke into a cold sweat and hit her head on the ground on the spot.
"Please forgive me!" Because she hit her head on the ground hard enough to make an audible thump, her skin was torn a little, and blood flowed from her forehead. Yet, she and Aries didn't care.
Aries spoke, stabbing the last remaining choux cream with a fork, "I said you can leave. And search the trace and find out where the castle is."
Delta shuddered at Aries’s calm voice. She felt like the fork stuck in the choux cream was stabbed into her head instead. It made her want to die right away to dare to make her teacher repeat himself.
"Yes! I will…! I will never let you down!" Shouting, Delta quickly escaped the mansion, moving at a high speed for a magician’s frail body.
Looking at Delta's back, Malecia sighed inwardly. "It seemed like she did try her best to find it, so I don't think being so cold is beneficial for morale."
At Malecia's recommendation, Aries tilted his head as if he didn't understand and swallowed the last remaining choux cream in one bite.
Aries briefly savored the feast of cream flowing in his mouth, glanced at the empty plate, and smacked his lips. "I didn't scold her as you advised, so what's the issue?"
"…Yes?" Malecia was taken aback by Aries's words.
"Why? Didn't you tell me not to overly scold my disciples because they might get discouraged?"
At Aries's question, Malecia nodded nervously. "Yes, that’s true...”
"That's why I didn't scold her and sent her off pleasantly."
"Uh... that was what you did?"
Aries nodded, proud of himself for engraving his subordinate's advice in his heart. But for Malecia, it was hard to tell how that was sending her off pleasantly. It didn't feel much different from Aries’s usual treatment of his students.
"So then what was that about you saying they were incompetent? Wasn’t that scolding?"
Aries looked at Malecia incomprehensibly. "How could saying the truth be scolding?”
Aries really couldn't understand. "I can't believe they took two days to confirm if it was real after finding the trace. Their senses are too lacking. They should have noticed as soon as they saw the mana in the trace."
After saying so, he let out a small sigh. So far, after he’d given his disciples an instruction, he took his mind off it afterward. But this time, he followed Malecia's advice and repeatedly instructed the stupid disciple once more.
Aries tapped his empty plate with a fork. Having thought about something he didn’t care for usually, he wanted to eat something sweet.
"Zeta… Smith was born with a weak body, but her good senses made her talented. That's too bad.”
Aries felt pity for the previous Red Magic Tower Master that he had taken in as a disciple and sharpened to survive on the battlefield. "Strawberry choux cream.…”
Malecia thought maybe he was sad about the choux cream he finished.
* * *
Arriving at Asterium, I unpacked my luggage at my appointed accommodation. Once again, an inn near the Asterium adventurer’s guild branch was used, but fortunately, we were able to get individual rooms because we weren’t a corps-level force like last time.
Of course, 1,500 adventurers were not a small number, but this time, the headquarters did not have to take care of the adventurers' accommodation and meals, so everyone could find their own inn as they pleased.
"But is it really okay if we don't find the adventurers any accommodations?"
Fiona answered Flam's question with a grin. "It's fine. There are many adventurers and mercenaries in Asterium, so there are also many inns."
Surely, Asterium had enough inns to accommodate 10,000 units of troops. There wouldn’t be any homeless adventurers just because the number of people suddenly increased by 1,500.
"And this request came from Duke Asteria, so there's likely a certain amount of room and board support from the duke.”
Demuir was startled as if he had a sudden sense of foreboding. "Wait. Doesn't that mean we have to distribute the support funding?"
I was frozen by Demuir's words.
"Ha, ha, no way, right?" Flam denied this reality, but the duke could not kindly give each adventurer a handout himself.
In other words, we had to sort out all the money being handed out, put it in our pockets, and do some labor to distribute it to the adventurers.
"Damn, sure enough, I did think it was strange that they took a lot of money to buy cloth bags!” Demuir was devastated by the facts that had been confirmed.
Damn it; I learned something I didn't want to know. If I wasn’t aware, I could have had hope!
Accommodation support was probably not limited to adventurers from the capital. There would be adventurers working in existing Asterium branches, as well as adventurers who gathered for money in the Duchy of Asteria.
Organ and Dano were usually reserved and had no complaints, but even they were discouraged this time.
Fiona clapped her hands in panic as the overall atmosphere became depressed. "But there’s also our guild members and the Asterium branch! And on this request, they said they'd provide manpower from the local branches to the Asterium branch!"
"Oh! Then it might be doable!" Flam spoke vigorously, but no one else responded.
"…Then shall we go to the Asterium branch?" Fiona spoke carefully, and the people of the headquarters, including me, headed for the Asterium branch with depressed steps.
* * *
"Huh? Hillis?" Leisha was following Duke Asteria and was surprised to find Hillis lined up at a famous dessert shop near the adventurer's guild.
Hillis noticed Leisha and smiled brightly, and waved. "Wow! Long time no see, Leisha!"
"Long time no see! But why are you here?”
As they greeted each other, Duke Asteria looked on with interest.
"It has been a while," said Duke Asteria.
Hillis greeted the duke by bowing gently and lifting the edges of her skirt slightly. "It has been a while. Have you been well, Your Highness?"
The duke received Hillis’s greeting, lifting his hat gingerly.
"Thanks to you, I've been living well. It is God’s blessing."
With the title of a duke, it was inevitable that there would be people he had not met before, regardless of group, faction, or rank. Naturally, he’s had face-to-face encounters with the pope and the saintess, the highest officials of the temple, the state religion of the empire.
"Do you know each other?" Duke Asteria asked, and Hillis affirmed with a fake gracious smile of hospitality that she used for entertaining guests.
"Yes, we do. Our benevolent Mother intertwined the fates of Miss Leisha and me." Hillis answered using the idioms of the temple, saying that God brought them together.
"I see. To meet like this, the benevolent Mother must have built a lot of crossroads between you and Leisha."
"Yes, it is a wonderful blessing and arrangement."
Leisha was not able to understand the conversation between Duke Asteria and Hillis at all.
“Would it possibly be rude if Miss Leisha spent time with me?”
When Hillis asked, the duke laughed. "Hahaha, it would not be rude. Didn't the benevolent Mother say that the petals of the blooming flower flow freely in the wind?”
Hillis smiled and lowered her head slightly when the duke used the temple's idiom of respecting Leisha's free will. "Hohoho, thank you for your consideration, Your Highness. Leisha, if you have time, let's grab some choux cream. I heard the strawberry choux cream here is so tasty."
At Hillis' suggestion, Leisha looked at the duke, and Duke Asteria smiled and nodded.
"Hehe, let's go, Lan! Hillis!" Leisha grabbed Lancelot’s arm as he just stood there and headed to the line where Hillis was. Lancelot was forced to follow Leisha.
"I will be back for dinner later!" Leisha grinned happily and waved at the duke and Bloody, and the duke smiled heartwarmingly and waved.
"Well, then let's go see Glont." Duke Asteria went with Bloody into the adventurer's guild.Previous Chapter Next Chapter