10-13. Courtesy Calls (2)
Satou's here. If humans don't have an objective, or rather a purpose, they can't quite work hard at it. Too grand of an objective will break your heart though, so it might be better if you have the short and the long terms objectives.
"My my, bringing such wonderful presents like these, Muno Barondom is quite rich isn't it."
The madam of Marquise Ashinen is looking at the presents from me that are in front of her, [Silk Cloth], [Sapphire Necklace], and [Coral Works] with great delight. I originally wanted to only give her the necklace, but since Arisa suggested that presents would be better if there were a lot, I slightly added it. The coral works especially, Viscount Shimen's secretary secretly advised me that they have a lot of variety on top of being rare in the inland, so it would be easy for the madam to give them to her servants.
I've packed the gold nude woman statue that's for Marquis Ashinen and handed it to the butler. It would have been sold to some merchant if I just gave it to the madam after all.
The madam of marquis Ashinen is an obese woman on her late 30s. It seems the couple have four daughters and two sons, though they're not here. The children are around 10-18 years old, two of the daughters have been married at the duchy capital, and the eldest son is working on the royal castle. Thanks to the madam's machine-gun talks, I acquired various information about the Marquis' house, nobles and the wealthy living in the labyrinth city. I don't feel particularly tired taking the role of a listener since I've gotten used to it during the tea parties in the duchy capital.
"Mother, did you call me?"
"Ara, you're late. How about her higness?"
"O madam! What do you want me for?" <TLN: She calls herself with 'warawa', and as you might've guessed...>
"I'll introduce this person to your highness. He's--"
The two new people who have entered the room are the second 15 years old plump son of the marquis couple, and the foreign kingdom princess whom I saw when I was entering the labyrinth city. Unlike at that time, her hair is in proper drill twin tail style. The silver hair ornament suits her brown hair well. A maid-san with plain face who seems to be the princess attendant follows her from behind. I guess she's the fiancee of the marquis couple's second son.
With the madam's introduction, the second son snorted like he was looking down after hearing my peerage.
"Fuhn, what, he's just a honorary chevalier huh. Making me to specially greet a sham noble who sucks up to mother for her favor, how ludicrous. Can I go back to my room now?"
This second son is just the about same as the Marquis whom I directly met in the trade city back then. He's too straight, he should be more indirect with the insult even if the other party is a lower ranked noble.
"Geritz-dono, aren't you being rude to that person? In our kingdom, we will be acting a bit more respectful even if the other person is a lower ranked noble nanoja."
As for this princess, although her way of talking is strange, she's unexpectedly proper.
The second son quietly cursed the princess, "Acting so impudent despite being a girl" in mutter while leaving the room after getting the madam's permission.
The madam apologized for his remark instead of the person himself. Is she being overprotective?
The third and fourth daughter of the Marquis couple entered in exchange. Gona the third daughter is lightly obese, while Shina the fourth daughter is thin and underweight unlike her sister and mother. Her face also looks somewhat different than the two. The older sister is still 12 years old, yet she's already been decided to marry into the house of a viscount who's their trusted retainer. Shina, the 10 years old little sister is still undecided due to her sickness.
The maid-san of the marquis's house came in while saying so. She's pushing a food trolley which has the Castella and blue tea that I've brought as presents.
"My, it's really an unusual cake isn't it?"
"My, it's melting in my mouth.... What an elegant taste."
"It's a cake that the queen of a faraway elf kingdom eats, it's called Castella."
I'm not telling a lie. High elf-sama did stuff them into her mouth with great relish. Un, let's go and visit her with some castella later.
"As expected of the pastry of the large kingdom Shiga ja. Although the 『Hotcake』 from the other day was delicious, I have never eaten such delicious cake like this before. I also want to make my kingdom become able to have cakes like this freely available ja."
Glad that the princess-sama is also delighted.
The lightly obese third daughter-san has finished eating it in one go and is aiming for her little sister's plate, but it looks like she thinks it's improper in front of a guest, she doesn't seem like she'll make a move. I presented the one in my plate that I hadn't touched to her when the madam turned away her view for an instant.
"You eat it too Shina. It's sweet and delicious."
The fourth daughter who has been urged by her mother cut a small piece of the yellow section of the castella and puts it into her mouth. After chewing it for a while, she leaks out a voice of admiration, "Delicious", that sounds like a cry. Her expression doesn't change, but her pale face has become slightly reddish, so she's probably happy.
The madam asked my purpose for coming to the labyrinth city so I answered, "Explorer". The third and fourth daughters didn't seem to be particularly interested, but the princess bit it.
"Oh! You came here to become an explorer! That's good! I also came here to become an explorer noja. I will absolutely carve great deeds like your country's Ringrande-sama, and become the hero's companion noja."
As expected, I think it's impossible for the princess to become an explorer. Her level is only two, and she doesn't have any fighting skills. She only has the Etiquette skill.
Even though I'd like to tell her some things, for the time let's be polite and only said, "That's quite a wonderful dream."
"Welcome back, master. I have handed the baked sweets to the butler-san."
I come back to the inn with Lulu who's waiting on the carriage. I had asked Lulu to distribute baked sweets with a lot of honey to the maids. I learned from the duchy capital that I couldn't make light of the servants network, so I gave them extravagant baked sweets as a prior investment. I didn't give them Castella since Arisa advised me to differentiate it with the one for their master.
The carriage passed through the street of the wealthy heading toward the eastern Explorer Guild.
Arisa and the others are participating in a short course that the guild has sponsored. It seems the participation is free. I intend to have Arisa teaches me the content of the lecture later. This short course seems to have veteran explorers teach beginners various things like the way to conduct yourself in the labyrinth, and important characteristics of monsters, and it's held regularly.
The short course is performed on the open space behind the guild. The lecture seems to be quite legit as they put out image of monsters to do it, though I don't know whether it's from light magic or nature magic.
Not only Arisa and the others, Jenna from back then and five other explorers, and also 40 children have also come. The children include both genders, but there doesn't seem to be any boy that's older than 10 years here.
Since it looks like the lecture is over, the staffs distribute wooden tags for participating. I wonder if that's like a completion certificate?
When I was gazing at that somehow, the receptionist lady from yesterday called me.
"Ara, Chevalier-sama. Your vassals took the lecture intently."
She seems to be carrying a large pot out of the guild building. It seems to be hot as she's using dish cloths to hold the pot. She puts the pot on the long table counter that has been prepared beforehand, and calls people who have participated in the lecture.
"We're distributing food. It's Selbira-style Stew today. Line up with your wooden tag."
I see, it's like a school's lunch program. The children who have gathered for the meal end up gaining knowledge about the labyrinth, and as the result, they will probably survive better when they explore the labyrinth. The guild must be expecting that in exchange for the food and personnel expenses, the losses of explorers will be decreased, and the number of the gathered magic cores will be increased, no doubt about it. However, since this course only opens once every five days, and the number of participants are limited, it seems that the children that can come are restricted.
The children received the poured stew with their wooden bowls, sat down on suitable places on the hall and began eating it.
"Master, thank you for your hard work."
"It's master and Lulu nanodesu!"
The three beastkin girls are also carrying wooden bowls with the stew in it. Since Pochi presents her spoon while saying, "Aan, nanodesu", I eat it. The saltiness is intense, but it seems to be stew with boiled scrap vegetables and some kind of meat inside. I've never tasted it before, but it's probably monster's meat. Frankly speaking, it doesn't taste good.
Although, the only one who has that impression seem to be only me, the children are eating the stew enthusiastically. The expressions on the beastkin girls look complicated, but they're eating them without any complaint.
Arisa, Nana, and Mia are still surrounding the female explorer lecturer and asking her with barrage of questions. Glad to see they're studying hard.
"Sir Pendragon. It has been a while."
"Nice to meet you Sir Pendragon. I am the friend of Gina, the daughter of Baron Keter, Heliona. I belong to 『Moonlight』 (party)."
Miss Heliona is a tall black-haired woman. Her hair is styled in bob cut, but there's a hair ornament with arranged feathers that make it looks like a peacock on her hair. She's wearing knight-like clothes and pants. Her breasts are small unlike Jenna, but she's a sexy girl with a nice waist line. The [Friend of the same town] that Gina has said in when we meet her is probably this person.
"Sir Pendragon. I'm sorry for my rudeness, but you should wear armor when you're entering the labyrinth. Even magicians wear leather armors before they enter the labyrinth. No matter how dexterous you are, we don't know if any surprise attack come from the surrounding. Don't be careless okay?"
Since Miss Heliona remonstrates me as a fellow explorer, I say my thanks and apology. Alas, we have become famous in the east guild due to a rumor about us getting kidnapped by the swarm of ants. It seems it was particularly known that it was an armor-less noble who entered the labyrinth while bringing some maids along. She's probably avoiding calling me "Fool" instead of "Noble". We should better wear some dummy armors next time.
"By the way Sir Pendragon, I've heard that you have a mithril sword, could you please let me see it once?"
While being bewildered with miss Heliona complete change who's fidgeting like she's going to confess her love, I pass her the fairy sword from my waist.
"Could I draw it?"
"What a beautiful sword. However, it's surprisingly light. Won't this make it hard when you fight against big monsters? I think for labyrinth it's better to have a spear or a pole arm as the main weapon, and a dagger as the side arm.
Sadly, most people commonly wear monsters-made armors in the labyrinth city, but don't you think that nobles should wear beautiful full-body silver armor? That beautiful silver! With that comes the power to crush evil--"
Looks like she's wearing metal armor and a pole axe when she's entering the labyrinth. It seems she will fights with dagger, the side arm, in a narrow passage. She seemed to like metal armor and had thoughtlessly recommended me to wear full body one. Since her talk is long, I ignore it halfway through, but it seems miss Jenna has gotten used to it as she's having a bitter smile.
Her passionate armor talk seemed to be continuing on still, but I took the chance when Arisa and the others came back and excused myself.
In the afternoon, I go to the firm that Sunifun-san, the merchant in Seryuu city, has told me and mail some letters toward Seryuu city. My letters are for the worker guild and Zena-san, Pochi and Tama are sending letter for the gate inn Yuni. It's as expensive as one silver coin a letter, but it's probably cheap considering how far the trip is.
After sending the letters, I go toward the [Mansion of Ivy] as scheduled.