Chapter 131

The next day, people began to evacuate the lakeshore. Since Evelyn had lost interest in the lake, they no longer had any reason to reside near the lake. Zich and Lyla also followed them, saying they didn’t want to stay near a lake where a monster had appeared. Evelyn was happy to hear this, and while her servants carefully supported her, she continued her previous conversation with Zich and Lyla.

Zich and Lyla responded to Evelyn’s questions politely. Zich didn’t show any signs of his usual rough demeanor, and they soon arrived back at the capital after a couple of days. And by that time, Evelyn seemed very fond of the two, especially Lyla.

“I will invite you two to my mansion later,” Evelyn said and left.

“Good. We made some good progress.” Zich was very satisfied with the current situation. 

After a couple of days passed, they really did receive an invitation to the Rouge family’s mansion. Thus, Zich and Lyla went to the mansion and chatted with Evelyn about a variety of topics. After they ate a fancy meal, the two returned to their lodging. Hans and Snoc were already asleep by then.

“She really is a good kid,” Lyla said with surprise. “But more than that, she seems weak. Like I can’t see anything strong about her. How did she become one of your subordinates?”

“That means something intense will happen to Evelyn. Something big enough to change her.”

There was a high possibility that it could also be something very cruel.

“Did you find out anything?”

“Nothing important. We didn’t even talk about anything special.”

“Isn’t that bad?”

“But I found something that could be a clue,” Zich recalled what happened before his regression. “The Evelyn in the future said that she left the capital around the King’s 50th birthday celebration, and she didn’t look happy while saying that.”

It also lingered in his mind that she said she had ‘left the capital.’ Evelyn was the Marquess’ daughter. The place she usually resided was at her family’s estate rather than the capital. And didn’t she say that she went to the lake every time she went to the capital?

“In Evelyn’s perspective, leaving the capital was a normal occurrence. But when she was telling me the story, she specifically pinpointed the event as the time when she left the capital. It seems more accurate to think that she got chased out of the city because of some incident.”

“But Evelyn is the Marquess’ daughter. How could that happen with her family background?”

“Therefore, it must have been such a big incident that not even her background could have protected her. Or it could have been something that placed not only her, but her whole family in jeopardy.”

“Now that you mention it, the Marquess was not at the mansion when we went there.”

“On top of that, there wasn’t the Rouge family’s heir, the Marquess’ son, either.”

The only ones in the mansion at the capital were the Marquess’ knights and servants. It also seemed like Evelyn could casually invite Zich and Lyla into the Rouge mansion because the Marquess and the family heir were absent.

“Even if there are some days left until it’s the king’s birthday, it’s too late for them to come now. There aren’t many events where many high-ranking nobles would all gather together like this. Normally, the Marquess and his heir should have arrived at the capital by now to read the atmosphere, meet the other lords, and participate in all kinds of social events.”

“Why haven’t they come to the capital yet?”

“There’s probably something urgent going on in their estate. That’s the only possibility that I can think of. And that’s why they must have sent Evelyn first to the capital to maintain the most basic etiquette. If this is the case, the Marquess may not arrive here until the celebration begins.”

“That means even if there’s some plotting going on in the capital, the Marquess won’t be able to respond as well.”

“Yes, exactly.” Zich clapped once. “I am also concerned about Evelyn’s fiancé.”

“Was his name Albus Windpool?”

Windpool was the son of another Marquess family and was also Evelyn’s fiancé. The Rouge and Windpool estates bordered each other. They had collaborated and fought with each other over the years, and with the union of these two families through marriage, they were leaning towards collaboration again.

“What about that? According to Evelyn, their relationship seems to be good.”

Considering how half of what Evelyn said was bragging about her fiancé, it seemed as if Windpool was a very lovely fiancé to Evelyn.

“Although Evelyn loved to indulge in debauchery and always commanded a group of many men, she never thought of having a personal relationship with any of them. She distrusted any ‘man’ from the bottom of her heart.”

“But you and your other subordinates were all men.”

“She strictly treated us as ‘colleagues’ or ‘boss.’ There was some sense of friendship, but she seemed to not believe in things like ‘love.’”

“That’s the opposite of how she is right now.”

“Yes, and that means there must be a reason for her change. So, it’s definitely suspicious that she has a man she likes during this period.”

Zich looked like he wanted to grab Albus Windpool by his collar and force the truth out of him at this very moment. “We have two things to investigate: we have to look for signs of a big incident that could jeopardize the Rouge family’s standing, and we have to find out more about Marquess Windpool.”

“Then are we not going to investigate what is going on in the Rouge estate?”

“It takes too long to travel there. It could also prevent us from properly investigating the incidents at the capital.”

“That is also true. Then, what are we going to do first?”

“We have to see who this fiancé is.”

Zich smiled like a predator who had caught sight of his prey.

*    *    *

“Give me some money.”

It was the next day. Lyla abruptly came into Zich’s room and stretched out her hand to him. 

Zich looked at her hand, moved his eyes to her face, and then he looked at her hands again. “You ask so confidently like you’re getting back the money I owe you.”

“So, are you going to give it to me?”

“Of course, I will. That kind of brazen and bold attitude is perfectly my type.”  Zich took out his magic box. “How much do you want?”

Zich asked for the sum without even asking for a reason, and Lyla coolly told him the amount she wanted. 

“…Wow. It’s not just your attitude, but the amount is bold too.”

“…Is it too much?” Lyla said a bit bashfully.

Zich shook his head. “No, no, it’s fine. Don’t be discouraged. You have to push your shamelessness to the limit to get what you want. If you step down in the middle, you’re going to be just a coward. In this type of situation, you have to kick my shin and shout, ‘Shut up and give me the money!’”

“…Stop spouting nonsense, and if you are going to give me the money, just give it to me.”

Zich took the entire money bag out of his magic box and put it on Lyla’s hand.

“…This is too much.”

“It’s your prize for being bold. You can use as much as you want from that bag. That bag holds our entire fortune, so if you use all of it, we will have to stay in shabby lodgings and only be able to eat wild game. But you don’t have to worry about us at all. I want you, Lyla, to do whatever you want.”

She glared at Zich, but Zich continued to smile and tease her.

“Really, you’re so annoying!”

Kick!

Lyla kicked Zich’s shin and stormed out of the room. Zich laughed the whole time.

*   *   *

For a few days, Zich spent his time researching Albus Windpool and the Marquess of Windpool. However, information about a noble, especially a noble that owned an estate far from the capital city, was hard to find.

‘As expected, I have to try infiltrating the Windpool estate.’

This was the best plan. Zich waited for the sun to go down. In order to not be seen, he put his robe down. He already told Lyla that he was going to be gone for a bit to infiltrate the Windpool mansion. 

“Here.” Lyla handed him something. It was a ring with a blue jewel on it.

“Isn’t it too early in our relationship to propose? I think we should try to get to know each other better and maybe start dating first—”

“Stop your nonsense and just take this.”

Zich took the ring that Lyla gave him. It was not an expensive item, but it wasn’t cheap either. Zich carefully examined the ring.

“And this too.” 

A small bag was thrown towards him. Zich quickly caught it with ease—it was the money bag he had given to Lyla. The bag was much lighter than when he had first given it to her. The once full bag now crumpled up in his hands.

“Didn’t I tell you that you could use everything?” 

“If you keep spouting nonsense, I’m not going to explain the ring.”

“Oh, no, I can’t let that happen.” Zich put the money bag inside his magic box and put the ring on his finger.

“…You’re not going to put it on a different finger?”

“Hey, Lyla. It’s been written down in the most ancient laws that if I get a ring from a beauty like you, I have to put it on my ring finger.”

But seeing that Lyla was really starting to get angry, Zich dutifully took his ring out and put it on his middle finger.

“Is it an artifact?”

“You realized it?”

“When I wore it, I could feel its mana’s flow right away. Did you make it?”

“Yeah.” 

Lyla probably asked Zich for a large sum of money to buy the ingredients to make this artifact for him. Zich was impressed. Artifacts were not common at all. They were hard to make, and very few people could make them in the first place.

‘Her abilities really are endless.’

“Since I didn’t have much time, ingredients, or money, it’s not that good.”

It wasn’t that Lyla didn’t have much time, ingredients, or money to make an artifact—from what Zich knew, Lyla basically had none of these three factors to make an artifact.

“This artifact has two abilities.”

“…Two abilities?”

The ‘not so good’ artifact that Lyla made with almost no time had two abilities. Even Zich became speechless for a moment.

“You told me you were going to infiltrate the Marquess’ estate, right? So I made something to help you out. One of its abilities is erasing your presence. Even though you are already good at doing this, this artifact will strengthen your ability even further. And the other ability is invisibility. Because no matter how well you erase your presence, it’ll all be a waste if others see you.”

“…”

“You can use each of the abilities three times. The cooldown period is about three hours.”

“…”

“Since the presence-erasing ability isn’t that strong, make sure you use it with your original abilities. Also, when you are using the invisibility ability, it’s fine if you are standing still, but if you move, traces will still be left behind. Make sure you remember that.”

“…”

“It’s not that great of an artifact so don’t rely on it too mu…, what’s wrong?”

Without even asking any questions, Zich stared at her in silence. Lyla looked at him strangely.

“No, I just realized that you are really an amazing person.”

“Even if you compliment me, I have nothing more to give you.”

But Zich saw that the corners of her mouth went up and she looked pleased.

He replied, “Anyways, thank you for the gift. I will use it well.”

“Yeah. I have to get some sleep. I’m very tired from making that.”

There were deep dark circles under her eyes. Her eyes were also red like a rabbit’s.

“If you want, you can use my room.”

“It’s fine. Why would I do that when I have my own room?” Lyla smirked. “Okay, I’m gonna head out.”

For his final preparation, Zich held up Windur next to his bed and took out his magic box.

Lyla saw this and asked, “Are you going to put Windur in the magic box too? That’ll make it harder for you to pull it out during times of emergency.”

Zich shrugged his shoulders. “But I can’t go around carrying that thing around. Even if a battle erupts, I won’t be able to use it since it stands out too much. So I’m planning to use a different sword this time.”

“Yeah, that seems reasonable.”

Even if Zich hid his identity, people might recognize him by his sword, Windur.

“If this guy stood out a little less, I would be able to…” Zich’s words faded. 

Lyla also opened her eyes wide. As if the sword understood what Zich said, the long blades of Windur that were shaped like tree branches slowly gathered together and formed one blade. Soon after, Windur’s unique tree-like appearance was gone and only an ordinary-looking sword with no unique characteristics was left.

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