Chapter 229. A Forgotten Castle and a Sealed Queen (9)

I put aside my worries for now and entered the office, pushing the door open with my elbow.

"Everyone, I brought snacks," I spoke in a bright voice and presented the box of choux cream, but the atmosphere in the office was cold. What's going on?

"Oh, you're here?" Nonetheless, Fiona still welcomed me with an awkward smile.

Honestly, I thought Demuir would be ecstatic by the news of snacks, but Demuir was holding his head with his eyes closed.

I asked Flam quietly, "What's going on?”

It was as if something serious came and went without me.

"Oh, the thing is….” Flam smiled awkwardly like Fiona.

"Let me explain." Fiona got up and approached me with documents that looked like meeting notes.

"For now, put down the snacks you brought and take these. These are the materials for this meeting."

At her instructions, I put down the box of choux cream, took the materials, and skimmed them quickly.

"As you can see from the materials, the knight school says it's going to conduct their practice around here."

"Yes, so it says." 

I already knew the knight school was going to practice around here because I heard from Lisbon before I arrived. The document stated in great detail how the practice would be directed. According to the document, they were scheduled to deal with monsters at the entrance of the Alps. This place was heaven for monsters and designated as a restricted territory.

"The Alps. It’s going to be quite difficult for the knight school."

The Alps were dangerous enough to be designated as a restricted land. It was called monster heaven, and it was a place where even knights struggled. Even if they were only at the entrance, I thought it would be too difficult for students.

But why is this data in the completely unrelated office of the adventurer’s guild? The intelligence of the knight school would be second-class military secrets or at least third-class military secrets.

"And as you can see from the final page, the knight school has requested help from our adventurer’s guild."

Well, then it made sense that these materials were here. The knight school's curriculum included working as a free knight in conjunction with the adventurer’s guild or the mercenary alliances. Thus, the knight school and adventurer's guild had a pretty close relationship. This request could just be considered a request for assistance in that relationship.

"Let's see." After Fiona spoke, I looked over the document.

According to the documents, they were asking for aid in various administrative and logistic areas, including supporting military supplies and learning tips on how to manage them.

As I kept reading, I stopped at a certain point and frowned. "This is?"

Fiona sighed and nodded at my question.

Fiona's affirmation shocked me because it was so absurd. "Is the dean of the knight school sane?”

"Den! The knight school Dean-nim is a soldier and is also a general and a nobleman with the title of viscount!" Fiona was surprised and warned me to watch my language.

The details of the request were so ridiculous that my inner thoughts popped out. According to the document, he was trying to drag noncombatant civil servants from the adventurer’s guild to the Alps.

"Hahaha, it’s just that it’s so ridiculous.” Everyone from the headquarters and the Asterium branch nodded in unison.

To be honest, if the dean were a sane person, he would not be trying to drag along those who lacked constant professional military training and were essentially weaklings, no different from civilians. The Alps were a place where knights could become monster food if they let their guard down. Even if he took us with him, we wouldn't even be able to ride a horse properly and would be nothing but a burden.

"Ehew, I agree with that, but be careful."

"Haha, okay, I will." At Fiona's sigh, I smiled humbly and nodded.

"So the reason the atmosphere is so depressing is from picking the people going to the Alps?”

Fiona nodded.

"That's weird, though. The guild director-nim would have ignored this kind of ridiculous request," I wondered.

Dano replied with a tired face, "The guild director-nim would have ignored the request if it was simply sent by the knight school dean, but the head of capital headquarters got it approved directly by His Majesty the Emperor and sent the request to the adventurer's guild."

"What?"

I flipped through the document to the end at Dano's words. There was an imperial crest stamped on it. In this case, it was only a request in name, but it was actually an imperial order. In other words, the moment it was not obeyed, you would go straight to the guillotine.

"Ha-a, normally, if the administrative department and the military want to work together, it needs to be approved by His Majesty the Emperor." Fiona sighed deeply.

As Fiona said, the reason these endeavors needed the emperor’s approval was simple. This regulation was aimed at curbing administrative power in case the nobles incited some of the administrators to revolt.

On the other hand, it also served to castrate the military’s administrative power by controlling the administration, which holds the budget rights of the army, in case some of the imperial military forces revolted. It was a sort of imperial separation of legal, administrative, and judicial powers.

"In that sense, we are under the administration.”

As I dealt with adventurers and handled many weapons-like items, I felt more like a part of the imperial army than the administration. In fact, such a small request was usually informally handled through the signature of the emperor’s head attendant.

But just my luck, the bastard himself took care of the documents. Perhaps because he was ignorant and rose to power from politics and not combat, he pushed noncombatants to the battlefield.

"Tch, this is why it’s not good to have superiors who are ignorant of the situation." 

Someone from the Asterium branch clicked his tongue and lamented. It was a lament that could be interpreted as an insult to the imperial family, but everyone here nodded in agreement.

Wait, didn't this mean that if I applied, I could naturally get out of Asterium where Uncle Bloody is?

"Well, everyone seems reluctant, so I'll sign up." When I spoke casually, the civil servants in the office looked at me in surprise.

"Wait! Den, don't talk about it as if it’s nothing! Do you know how dangerous the Alps are!" Fiona was rather angry when I volunteered.

Well, it was famous for being dangerous, so they might have thought I was drunk on a hero mentality. Should I have pretended to be a little worried?

"Well, it’s fine. Someone must go, and I don't think there will be any applicants."

Then, one of the Asterium branch members, a man with a nice mustache, spoke sincerely, "It's nice to see you trying to sacrifice yourself. However, maybe because you're from the capital, I think you're looking down too much on a restricted land."

If I remember correctly, when he came to Asterium due to the draft, and I saw his rank, he was higher ranked than Fiona.

"No, I'm aware of the dangers of a restricted land because I was born and raised around here. The place I grew up in borders the Olympus Forest.”

No one here knows more about restricted lands than I do. I didn’t say this due to my hometown being in the Olympus Forest, but because I had a general knowledge of every restricted land, as Elder Mirpa forced me to learn about all kinds of magic materials. I also had knowledge about magic materials that could only be obtained in the Alps.

"You were born and raised in such a dangerous place, but you’re still applying while knowing so!" 

The Asterium branch people applauded and praised my decision. I didn't expect to be applauded for going to a safer place than my courtyard in my hometown.

The man with a nice mustache agonized and asked my name. "What's your name?”

"I'm Den."

The mustached man who heard my name once again seriously dissuaded me. "Yes, Den, I understand your courage. But while you went to buy snacks, we decided to exclude the new recruits from this mission. This mission is too dangerous for inexperienced people.”

For some reason, I felt that if I hadn't volunteered, this mustached man would have reluctantly volunteered after a long meeting. If I were him and someone said that they would do something dangerous in my place, I would have said that they were a good person and left it at that. This guy was a truly upright person.

"That's right. We can't let Den go, especially because he's new." Fiona nodded in agreement with the mustached man.

However, I wanted to leave the city where my uncle was, so being constantly opposed was putting me in a difficult position.

"I'm embarrassed to say this, but I believe I have had the most experience dealing with monsters out of all of us.”

Those from the headquarters looked at me like they had never heard such a thing before.

"Although I’m just a newborn baby as a civil servant, I have been holding a sword since I was four and hunting with my family since I was five."

To be exact, I was thrown at the monsters.

I held an office-use dagger on my desk and let out mana weakly. "Thanks to my upbringing, I can do at least this much."

Fiona looked worried when she saw the blue, twinkling sword aura flowing on the dagger.

The mustached man, on the other hand, let out an exclamation. "Huh! What an impressive friend! As far as I’ve heard, you’re still sixteen, but to think you can use sword aura. Forgive me for thinking you had zero experience because you’re a new civil servant."

I grinned at the mustached man's apology. "What forgiveness? You did nothing wrong. So there's nothing wrong with me going, right?”

The mustached man nodded willingly. "With that skill, it'd be right for you to go."

"Wait! But the Alps are still too dangerous to leave to a newbie...”

The mustached man smiled bitterly at Fiona's words. "Yes, Miss Fiona. You're right. Even if that guy knows how to use sword aura, it doesn’t make it much safer. But do you think any of these people here have the ability to come back safer than that guy?"

Fiona was speechless towards the mustached man. In the end, this was because it was still dangerous no matter who went.

But Fiona and the people from the headquarters looked at me anxiously, so I smiled lightly and said, "Actually, there's a friend I know from the knight school, and I volunteered because I was worried about him. And don't worry too much. There are also knights that escort the knight school students. Besides, would the guild director-nim really not give us an escort?”

Personally, it would be more convenient if he didn’t give us an escort.

"Uh, it seems that it's almost dinner time. The guild director-nim will be waiting.”

I took a bite of the strawberry choux cream from the choux cream box. A refreshing and sweet flavor spread throughout my mouth.

By the way, I'm worried about tonight.

* * *

"Strawberry choux cream?" Aries looked down at the crate with a dry look. Malecia was nervous in a cold sweat.

"It was all sold out today...” As soon as Malecia brought up the term ‘sold out,’ fierce mana came out of Aries and pressed down heavily inside the mansion.

"There was a situation...!”

At Malecia’s cry, Aries quickly retrieved his mana. Malecia managed to get by, but the subordinates who were on standby nearby knelt down, taking heavy breaths.

"Describe."

With just this short word, Malecia spoke quickly but didn’t rush and described what he saw step by step. Fortunately, Aries's interest shifted from the strawberry choux cream to Lupin wearing a white half-mask.

"There was a big explosion. Nothing was broken, and no one was injured. It's quite complicated, like magic from the last legacy of the Witch of Pride,” said Aries.

Malecia asked, "Would such a precious thing be held by a petty thief?"

"I don't know. I didn't see it in person. And even if he doesn’t have the last legacy, such magic that doesn’t cause harm can be implemented through spatial magic. It's just a hassle."

Aries murmured while stabbing the choux cream with a fork, "Lupin, you dare take my strawberry choux cream...”

The grudges over food were deep and long-lasting.

* * *

Everyone from the headquarters traveled to the duke’s castle in a large carriage sent by the duke, seeming nervous and happy. Perhaps this was because they were invited to a noble’s dinner banquet for the first time. However, it felt like everyone was acting carefully towards me as if they had some sort of guilt about me going to the Alps. But anyways…

"Is there something on my face?” For a while now, Guild Director Glont has been staring at my face as if he was trying to penetrate it.

To my question, Guild Director Glont smiled, covering his mouth slightly with only his pinky. "Ohhoho, no, it’s just because you're handsome." 

Uwack! I just got goosebumps for real.

"Um, please tell me verbally if I did anything wrong. I don't know what it is, but it's all my fault."

When I suddenly apologized, Guild Director Glont was rather flustered. "No, what wrongs! Den didn't do anything wrong. Hohohoho!”

Damn, what the hell did I do wrong?! Suddenly, my thoughts got complicated.

Did I get caught stealing high-quality snacks from the guild director's office? Or pretending to be at work by leaving an illusion of myself and taking a nap in the night room? Or did he find out that I turned a blind eye to Demuir breaking the Guild Director’s most cherished teacup in place of getting his snacks for a month?

There were so many small things that I didn't know what was discovered. I entered the duke’s estate with Guild Director Glont’s incomprehensible gaze pinned on me.

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