This is the last interlude. We will enter the next arc next chapter! Are you excited? ‘Coz I sure do~
ED: xtostos and eristol
It was a foggy night like tonight.
It was around the time when I used to make a living through stealing by forming an alliance with a wannabe mage called Rob.
When we were walking while hunting for the prey of the evening, we came across a strangely eye-catching young girl.
She was a terribly beautiful girl with blonde hair.
She seemed to be about 14 or 15 years old.
Although she was wearing blue clothes without decoration, I could tell at first glance that she was a young noble who was travelling incognito .
Even if she could easily fool people with her attire, she couldn’t simply change her demeanor.
That girl came out from the back door of a store dealing with high-class monstro materials.
A black box-shaped carriage was waiting nearby and she was accompanied by a single maid who was holding a sturdy-looking bag.
Aah, by the way, there was a golden cat at her feet.
It was just around 9 o’clock, just after the night watch’s song switched.
At such a time, the girl of noble birth brought only one person to accompany her and was trying to return home stealthily with a box-shaped carriage.
Surely there were complicated circumstances.
In short, she was extremely vulnerable.
We, being considerate, quickly thought of something.
Let’s take that full-of-valuables luggage by all means, we thought.
Of course, the aim was not that young girl’s household, but a familiar receiver’s shop.
We used ‘false deception’ like a special technique.
It was a common purse-snatching trick.
First of all, I bumped into my opponent with force, snatched the object and escaped.
Then Rob came forward with a kind face, saying “I’ll chase him, please wait here” and started running.
When Rob used his trick, it became even more effective.
As he helped up the victim, he put a dizziness spell on them.
That way, most people wouldn’t chase us after that and even if they did chase us, we could easily give them the slip.
After running away for a while and successfully regrouping, we couldn’t endure our laughter.
Well, my partner and I took a roundabout path to an inconspicuous alley to look at the inside of the bag.
It was a little laborious to wrench open the bag.
It seemed that there was a strange mechanism.
However, somehow unlocking magic worked and we were able to see the contents safely.
Everything inside were all ridiculously expensive things.
Flesh, bones and scales of rare magical beasts. Tiny bits of phantom beast fossils were mixed in.
There were stones rarely seen in the West like the moonlight ore and twilight stone.
If we sold them all, we could live idly for 5-6 years.
So I was in high spirits and said “We did it! I want to see their stupid faces!” and looked up at my partner.
However, my smile froze in place.
“Really, do you want to see this face that much?”
It was the young girl with blue clothes who was looking down at me while laughing with a thin smile.
Even when I looked around, I couldn’t see the figure of my partner.
Even though he was supposed to be standing in front of me a while ago.
No, to begin with, there wasn’t any sign of movement or any sound of footsteps.
“What are you looking for? I am looking for a bag.”
Her clear voice didn’t sound like that of a human being’s, it sounded like another being entirely.
I screamed as chills ran down my spine.
While tumbling and tripping, I grabbed the bag and ran.
Then, I ran away to escape from her.
I was worried about Rob’s whereabouts, but that guy who was unskillful was the one at fault.
That was just how this business works. No hard feelings.
I ran away to escape from this confusion and successfully took refuge in an empty alleyway.
So, aah, I stroked my chest in relief.
Then, I noticed that there was a woman in the apparently empty alleyway.
I thought that she was a prostitute of this area wandering around at such a time.
After all, it was after I had quite a fright.
I missed the softness and warmth of a woman, so I said, “You, how much for one night?”
Then the prostitute replied, “I am not for sale.”
As the woman turned around slowly, before I knew it, she turned into the young girl with blue clothes.
I was so surprised to see her that my heart felt like it was about to jump out of my chest.
I felt like I was about to lose it and ultimately ended up using my wand.
It was a wand I got from stealing and I had been keeping it on my body as a precaution.
It was the wand of Death.
I didn’t intend to use it because I was going to keep it as a charm. Until that moment.
Just after waving it once, my cheap gloves got torn and my precious wand flew out of my hand.
But, the black hands released from the wand had surely grabbed her.
That girl was supposed to have died.
However, that girl, she didn’t even fall over.
On the contrary, she drew closer.
“Sorry, those who are already dead cannot be killed.
Are you okay? I wonder if you got hurt. Can you show me your hand?”
That girl said something insane and smiled sweetly.
It was a dreadful smile.
Even just recalling it now, I can’t stop trembling.
Aah, this was not good, this girl was surely a being from the Lunatic King’s era.
‘Cause the magic of Death hadn’t worked.
I thought that she had to be an immortal being whose name was too terrifying for me to say.
I only had awareness until that moment.
It was pathetic, but apparently, I seemed to have lost my consciousness.
So, I didn’t remember a single thing from after that time.
Before I knew it, it was morning and I was lying down on that back alley.
I, too, already had enough of such frightening experiences.
I washed my hands off from thievery since that time.
What happened to my partner Rob you say?
His whereabouts were unknown.
Surely he was taken to the other world by that girl in blue clothes.
Therefore, I would never be able to meet him again.
(The story of Daniro, the rogue of a certain port town)
Autumn, Trade City Knot Reed.
Three days before the launching ceremony, people were overflowing in the city much more than usual.
The ship that was built this time was a new type of cruiser developed with the cooperation of Hafan and Turm.
Therefore, among the people who were walking on the streets, many were seen wielding staffs and wearing robes.
On that day, Harold who opened the door of the Wunderkammer to take a lunch break was facing an unexpected situation.
Two noblemen who didn’t suit the dirty and rough room were intruding.
“Ah~ welcome back, Harold.”
“Well, well, Your Highness Auguste, you seem to be in excellent spirits……”
One of the intruders who were sitting idly on the sofa was the beautiful prince Auguste Ignitia.
Wearing the white uniform of the magic academy casually, he waved his hand towards Harold with a relaxed appearance.
At his feet, a small golden dragon was sleeping happily.
The other person who had short black hair was opening a thick dictionary-like book beside him.
He was wearing the uniform of the magic academy without any disorder and had an appearance with no gap like a strung up thread.
“So this is the rumored Nibelheim heir, huh?”
Harold’s smile slightly froze as he was pierced by the sharp gaze.
Who is this black-haired beautiful guy with sharp impression, who is not inferior, rather can even be compared to the prince?
Reaching the answer after only a moment of thinking, Harold asked—
“……You are Klaus-sama from Hafan Ducal House, right?”
“Hou, you know well.”
Harold reservedly smiled back to Klaus who seemed surprised.
The observant eyes of Harold, who was trained by the Turm elder, were reliable.
Moreover, he had just finished making the list of students of the magic academy at Erica’s request.
There was no mistake.
“Please excuse my rudeness. I am Harold from the House of Earl Nibelheim. Pleased to make your acquaintance.”
This boy named Klaus Hafan was a member of the former royal family in the East.
They were the symbol of that land’s blood and the spiritual pillar.
It would be a serious matter if he made a mistake in handling this person, so Harold became polite.
“Sorry. Although it was due to Auguste’s wiles, we intruded arbitrarily.”
“The two of you are welcome any time.”
Hearing Klaus’ gentle answer that didn’t have an ounce of arrogance or condescension, Harold secretly felt relieved.
It reminded him that Erica evaluated Klaus as ‘an unexpectedly good person’.
“I heard that you are 13 years old……you’re quite tall.”
“It seems that people in the northwestern area are tall, Klaus.”
“Yes, Your Highness. Furthermore, it seems that my growth period came sooner than the others.”
Harold added in supplementary information to Auguste’s explanation moderately.
“I see,” Klaus looked convinced and nodded.
“Well then, I will brew some tea. Please wait here.”
Harold who finished his greetings successfully escaped from the Wunderkammer for safety reasons.
After quickly escaping to the kitchen and boiling water, he shouted with all his strength inside his mind.
(The Hafan Ducal House!? The former royal family~~!?
Just why exactly only such important people come to my store~~~~!?)
His burden and difficulties increased drastically with the appearance of the royal family and the former royal family.
Besides, this time it was Hafan.
According to the Turm family, aristocrats of Hafan were stiff and prideful, respected formalities and were very exclusive.
Moreover, they were earnest, idealists and perfectionists.
Even when the cruiser was being built, there were great fuss due to them changing the specifications thoroughly.
(That Klaus guy seems to be a straightforward person……)
Harold was reminded that he was going to enroll in Lindis Magic Academy next year.
It was a city where people of diverse cultures and ethnicities gathered, the City of Old Magic.
He wouldn’t be able to study in the academy he had been yearning for if he was upset by trivial things like this.
“Rather, this is a great opportunity to make connections. Alright!”
Harold encouraged his withering heart like giving water to a dog.
Once the water was boiled, he brewed the tea with his usual procedure.
After he had steamed it long enough, he took the pot and a tea set and went back to the room.
“I’m sorry for making you wait.”
Harold donned a business smile on his face and served them flawlessly.
He moved the low table to the front of the two people sitting on the sofa and arranged the tea set.
After that, Harold brought himself a chair to sit and sat down on their opposite side.
“Ah~ sorry for bothering you suddenly like this, Harold. It’s because Klaus insisted on coming along to the launching ceremony by all means.”
“You are the one who was sticking to me like an appendage arbitrarily……”
“I see. So, the reason why both of you have visited this store, is it to buy a wand? Or is it for a different official business?”
“Aa, I thought we could meet Erica if we came to your Wunderkammer.”
“Sorry, Your Highness. Had you come at this time on the day before yesterday, you would have been able to meet Ojou-san.”
Harold reservedly responded with a smile and Auguste looked dramatically disappointed.
“A~ah, I thought Erica would definitely come over here~”
“Kuku, your prediction was off, Auguste.”
Klaus laughed unreservedly while looking at Auguste who seemed disappointed.
“Well, about today, is she touring around the famous pilgrimage locations? No, is she in the direction of that furnace1?”
“Well, who knows. Certainly, I heard that she will be carrying out an inspection somewhere.”
“I see, so Erica is inspecting something, huh? I hope she doesn’t thrust her neck into a dangerous situation again.”
Although Harold knew Erica’s whereabouts, he had to dodge the question.
At this time, Erica would be out on the sea for a ridiculous business.
Today, Erica’s purpose would be subjugating the sea serpents which had come northward from the sea near the continent of Karkinos.
If you say sea serpent, it was an even more dangerous creature than the kraken.
Moreover, the target of the subjugation plan was the super-giant marine animal called abyss serpent.
It was not a target which an ordinary noble lady would hunt.
But, that Erica should be able to do it, Harold thought.
This plan was, of course, a top secret.
According to Erica, apparently, she would pretend to inspect the inshore fishing industry and while at it, suppress the sea serpent ‘by chance’.
“I thought that you would know, but it seems my expectation is off.”
“I’m sorry I cannot help you more, Your Highness.”
“Don’t worry, Harold. The one at fault here is Auguste for suddenly coming over.”
Auguste who got admonished by Klaus pretended to sulk, picked up the golden dragon at his feet and buried his face in it.
After watching Auguste with an exasperated face, Klaus looked at Harold and opened his mouth.
“Well, I also wanted to see your face myself.”
“Heeh? Um, me……?”
“You are Harold Nibelheim, the alchemist who saved the city from the Cursed Sword of Fire, right?”
Being shot by Klaus’ sharp gaze, Harold felt like he was a grazing animal in front of a carnivorous beast.
His face seemed to be smiling but his eyes were not necessarily smiling, as dread stirred up.
“That was truly accidental……I just had a good luck.”
These were the words that also came from the depths of Harold’s heart.
He had absolute confidence in his own talent, but at that time, there were simply some predestined factors.
“You must have saved the city. People were talking about you in Hafan.”
“That’s a fascinating tale.”
“You’re going to the magic academy next year, right? I look forward to meeting you as an opponent in a duel.”
“No, unfortunately I cannot use a wand, so it will be difficult for me to be your opponent.”
“Hou, that’s unusual. Why is that?”
Hearing Klaus’ words, Harold intentionally made a troubled face.
The truth about the zero inhibition value was basically concealed since it was synonymous to being defenseless.
But the other party was the former royal family.
Keeping a secret would be impolite so Harold’s mouth opened.
“If you are studying alchemy at the academy, you would understand when I say that there is an inhibition regarding external magical power, right?
This is the scar I got when I accidentally used a wand as a child.”
“……I see, I’m sorry to hear that. Forget what I said.”
When Harold showed the scar on his right hand, Klaus looked apologetic for a moment.
Indeed, it seems that he’s not a bad person, as he thought so, Harold smiled reflexively.
“But sometimes Erica-ojousan becomes your opponent, right?”
“Aa. That’s how I knew about your magnificent wand craftsmanship. And wanted to fight you.”
“I’m undeserving of your praises……”
Harold lowered his head respectfully.
Mages evaluated alchemy poorly, but then it was someone from the Hafan family, the head of the mages, who praised it.
He concealed the expression on his face, which was about to break into a smile due to the unexpectedly high evaluation from Klaus.
At such a time, knocking sounds on the stone door resounded.
The three of them stared at the door all at once.
When Harold answered, the heavy door slowly opened.
Then, a young man with gray hair and a blonde-haired young man appeared from the other side of the door.
At that time, Gilbert Turm was heading to the Turm Wand Store by a small boat.
In order to introduce the talent who was recently hired to Harold, he came out of his business negotiations.
“We are going to the Harold-sama I heard from the rumors, right……”
“Ah— well, you don’t need to be that nervous, Rob.”
Riding the boat with Gilbert was a young man named Rob, who came to work at the workshop due to Erica’s recommendation.
He was a commoner from Hafan who had dark brown hair.
Thanks to his magical talent, he showed S-grade works in the workshop in the blink of an eye.
Rob had entered the magic academy with high hopes, but ran away from school in half a year after being singled out by vicious aristocrats.
In such a situation, he couldn’t return to his hometown and at the end of his wandering, he went through Knot Reed.
It was said that he had lowered himself to thievery after being forced to live a hard life without any support.
When he encountered Erica by chance at that time and talked about his life, he was introduced to Gilbert’s workshop.
“I’m trying to understand, but when I heard that he is the Earl’s son, subconsciously—”
“Well, I also feel bad for your magic academy year when the scary noblemen were gathering there.
But, Harold-botchan is special. He is practically the same as a special commoner of the commoner masses……huh!?”
Gilbert, who was talking with Rob, was suddenly hit by chills.
Gilbert’s instinct whispered that it would be dangerous to go forward right now.
With this intuition, Gilbert had been saved from plight several times.
For example, when it seemed as if he would come across a group of nasty senior aristocrats of his generation during his academy days.
Rob anxiously called out to Gilbert who suddenly fell silent.
“Suddenly your complexion got somewhat worse, are you okay?”
“Aa, I’m fine. No, it’s not fine.
……you know, let’s go drinking right now.”
“Eh? Is that okay?”
“Well— somehow, I feel that today is a bad day, so we will greet Botchan next time!
Yo~sh, let’s have a drink today! It’s my treat!”
The boat that Gilbert and Rob rode on made a U-turn and steered towards the town bar.
As a result, Gilbert avoided touching one trouble.
Turm Wand Store’s Wunderkammer was welcoming new customers.
The mage Elric Actorius and the alchemist Eduard Aurelia.
Elric had been visiting this land every year since that incident in order to offer flowers in the site of the accident in the ruins.
This year he was unusually being accompanied by his best friend Eduard.
“I’m sorry for bothering you, Harold-kun. This is the first time we meet after a year. Aah, His Highness Auguste and Klaus-kun are here, too?”
“Thank you for having me over. Oya, what a strange coincidence. Did the two of them come for the launching ceremony and took the opportunity to come here?”
Harold felt a cold sweat flowing on his back even though a business smile was still showing on his face.
Crown Prince of Ignitia, Auguste.
Klaus, the eldest son of the former royal family of the East.
Eduard, the eldest son of the former royal family of the West.
And Elric, who was probably an exiled noble from Karkinos.
Each and every one of them were important figures of noble origins.
If it were a young lady of age in his place, she would probably be pleased, but for Harold it was a difficult situation to handle.
“Eduard, didn’t you have some urgent business to attend to in Karkinos?”
“Heeh~ so it’s going to be a sea voyage from this place to the South? How refined, huh, Onii-sama?”
When Klaus and Auguste asked, Elric and Eduard exchanged glances with troubled expression.
“No, that, unfortunately, Eduard’s departure has been postponed.”
“An abnormality occurred in the waters near the continent of Karkinos.
It seems that the sea serpents came northward to the sea area near Knot Reed.”
While talking about such things, Elric and Eduard walked down to the chaise lounge.
Harold stood up from his chair and greeted them.
“I am Harold from the House of Earl Nibelheim. Nice to meet you!”
“Aah, Harold-kun. I’m Erica’s older brother, Eduard Aurelia, take care of me, okay?”
Harold clasped Eduard’s offered hand.
This was the first time he met the busy Eduard.
“My sister seems to be indebted to you.”
“Same here, I always receive favors from Ojou-sama.”
“Thank you for becoming a good friend of my sister, Harold-kun.
Oh right, I secretly checked the things you sent Erica a few times.”
Eduard was smiling, but Harold felt like he was being appraised.
Eduard’s clear green eyes which seemed to be able see everything were very similar to that of Erica’s.
Harold became worried when he thought that the wands he made were investigated by such a person.
“Your works are very thorough and exquisite. Still, the ideas are unusual. I looked and admired them.”
“Crystal Cluster in particular is a wonderful work.
A simple and beautiful spell composition and extraordinarily powerful.”
“No way, I am unworthy of such words.”
When Harold glanced sideways, Elric was offering the food he bought in the city to Auguste and Klaus.
A bread with boiled cow’s stomach sandwiched inside and a bread with raw herring sandwiched inside2.
Klaus and Auguste were fighting on which one to eat.
Apparently, Klaus didn’t like raw fish, which Auguste found amusing and was trying to forcibly pass the raw herring one to him.
Harold felt that he was envious of the three carefree people from the bottom of his heart.
“But, how surprising, Eduard. If it’s just a sea serpent, isn’t it easy to get rid of it?”
“Klaus-kun, I don’t think sea serpent is a magical beast that can be gotten rid of by a single person.”
Klaus who successfully got the bread with boiled cow’s stomach asked and Eduard shook his head.
Your younger sister is suppressing it by herself, Harold swallowed those words.
“It would be a different story if I had offensive wands specialized against giant creatures, but that is not something a person usually carries around all the time.”
Your younger sister carries them around all the time, but while thinking so, Harold was silent.
Klaus was satisfied with Eduard’s answer and began to bite his bread.
Eduard looked around the room.
“Even so Harold-kun, you have a nice Wunderkammer, will you let me take a look around?”
“Yes, you’re welcome to look as much as you want.”
“Thank you. Somehow this feels like I am about to open the treasury of a ruin, I’m excited.”
Harold gave permission while being filled with trepidation.
After walking around the room, Eduard picked up one of the wands on the work table.
“Oya? Is this the wand of Merciful Death?”
“Yes, that’s right.”
“Last time it was used is six hours ago……there seems to be a customer who uses such a dangerous thing, huh.”
“Yes, I agree.”
Harold felt impatient after the truth was discovered, but he nodded while hiding the unrest of his inner thoughts.
The wand of Merciful Death was sometimes used by Erica when going to a place with poor security.
‘I’ll stay dead before I die’ Erica said, but Harold didn’t understand the need to do so.2
“Oya, this is the wand of Castling, isn’t it? It seems to have been used for a considerably long time.”
“Yes, that’s right.”
“Is the user a ruin explorer?”
“I apologize, but that is personal information.”
Eduard guessed the wands Erica used and left behind in the Wunderkammer right in succession.
Each time he said “You seem to have made a wand for traveling by boat”, “An offensive wand against giant creatures, huh? I would have loved to see the real thing”, Harold got one mental chip closer to the resignation that at this rate even Erica’s current whereabouts might just get exposed as well.
Wouldn’t it be easier if he confessed?
But Harold’s creed was one of willpower and he forcefully desisted from doing so.
(I can’t say it……I can’t say that Erica is going to hunt the sea serpent in front of this lineup!!)
The poor Harold once again screamed inside his mind.
Although Eduard’s questioning was relentless, the mouth of Harold who was the disciple of a wealthy merchant was also tightly-shut.
On that day, Harold never leaked the secret of his partner.
However, the name and identity of the alchemist called 「Abyss Killer」 would spread at a later date and all of his hardships would become like bubbles on the water.
1 Furnace Auguste mentioned here is Gilbert’s secret workshop.
2 This is mouthful, but I think this is the author’s way saying that there is no sandwich in this world. That’s why Harold describe the food like this.
3 See the first arc, the effect of Death loses out to the effect of Merciful Death.
On the first part it is said ‘14 or 15 years old’ this is not a typo. As seen on the previous chapter Erica has ‘supple elongated limbs’ which means she is taller than the average girls of her age. (xtostos: not by much since she should be 13-14 in this chapter, same as Harold)
Before we enter the fourth arc, I want to do a survey. Please comment and say who you ship Erica with and your reasons.
I myself is rooting for Klaus *cough* because while he is a poor, socially awkward child, until now he always keeps his promise of being the first one to rush over to her when she is in danger.
Also, can you guess what Harold’s role will be in the future, besides being Erica’s
willing slave business partner?
xtostos: Aim for friendship route! Romance should be centered around the game’s protagonist, not around Erica. She’ll have plenty of time for romance once she’s done with the whole vampire threat.