Chapter 159 Magician’s Inquiry
Edited by: Kanaa-senpai
A week had passed since His Majesty suddenly visited the settlement and returned to the capital the next day. Just before departure, His Majesty unexpectedly instructed me, “Send someone later to bring the recipe for chicken dishes and all types of alcohol brewed in the settlement to the capital.” I was greatly flustered by this abrupt order. Notably, the issue was with the alcohol. There were a total of nine types of alcohol brewed in the settlement, which meant I had to prepare nine barrels of alcohol, but the consumption was limited to the settlement, so I didn’t have facilities for large-scale production of alcohol, and there were no barrels in the settlement to begin with. Consequently, I had to hastily place an order for barrels from the Harvest Hoe. However, barrels couldn’t fit into the item box, so feeling apologetic, I arranged to have only the barrels quickly transported to the settlement.
Fortunately, seven of the nine types were made using the soaking method, so I combined the ingredients for these seven with medicinal alcohol in the barrels. I occasionally stirred them, and there were hardly any problems. The remaining two types were made through distillation, which couldn’t be left untouched. Hence, Mei and I became immersed in the process of brewing these two types, reminiscent of times gone by.
As for the matter of accommodations for distinguished guests, if we were to offer accommodations for such guests, we needed to pay attention not only to appearances and interiors but also to functionality. It wasn’t something that could be built hastily. Even if we were to build such an impressive structure now, there wouldn’t be enough personnel to manage it. Therefore, the idea of converting some of the rooms in the mansion into guest rooms for distinguished guests was proposed.
Originally, the mansion was built to protect the wedge of Ameris from the elements and creatures, and it wasn’t particularly spacious, lacking extra rooms. Hence, we needed to prepare vacant rooms. After discussions about which rooms to use, it was decided to convert the servant rooms that the slaves had used into vacant rooms. The division of living spaces for male and female slaves was to prevent them from escaping the settlement together as a family. However, the slaves had adapted to life in the settlement, and the possibility of escape was negligible. Therefore, we decided to expand the housing for female slaves by building a separate dwelling adjacent to the male slaves’ lodging. As usual, I entrusted the construction to the reliable dwarf, and although the timing was quite tight due to Zora’s punishment ending and him planning to return to town soon, Ronim-san graciously accepted the request.
With these various developments, the settlement became unexpectedly busy, and at this moment, a valuable reinforcement arrived. It was the additional personnel that I had requested from Gibbett-san, and apparently, the family’s persuasion had gone smoothly. Gibbett-san was bringing three individuals along today as promised.
”Well, is this everything?”
I gathered the necessary ingredients for the depleted alcohol from the mansion’s warehouse and was heading out of the mansion towards the laboratory when I caught sight of five figures approaching from the corner of my eye. Leading the group was Lewya, followed by Gibbett-san, and behind them were three unfamiliar children who looked around nervously as they walked.
”Master Neil, I’ve brought guests.”
Considering they were guests, using formal language was only natural for a servant like Lewya, but it still felt strange hearing her use it.
”Master Neil, it’s been a while.”
”Oh, Gibbett-san, long time no see. Even though we’ve been frequently corresponding through letters, it’s been a while since we’ve met face-to-face, right?”
”Yes, it does feel that way. It hasn’t even been a full year, but it feels like quite some time.”
”Hahaha… Well, we’ve both been quite busy.”
While there haven’t been any suspicious individuals in the settlement apart from the trio I mentioned, the Harvest Hoe still occasionally reported seeing suspicious figures. Dealing with this had proven challenging. On our end as well, we’ve encountered various issues, so as Gibbett-san put it, though it hasn’t been that long, it feels like quite some time.
”By the way, are those three behind you the ones we discussed?”
”Yes, these are the individuals I brought from Froyren. All three of them, please greet Master Neil.”
At Gibbett-san’s prompting, the three children timidly stepped forward while replying in tense, strained voices.
”I-I’m Ranbaa! Nice to meet you!!”
”Oh, I see. Nice to meet you too, Ranbaa.”
First to introduce himself was Ranbaa, a boy who seemed fitting of the word “spirited,” with a strong presence. He was visibly frozen with nervousness. A somewhat oversized longsword for a child hung at his waist. Though the handle was quite dirty and showed signs of heavy use, suggesting he might be physically adept.
”Master Neil, I am Seira. My father was a hunter, and I also learned to handle a bow. I’ve been taken hunting a few times, so I have some confidence in my archery skills. Nice to meet you.”
”Yeah, nice to meet you too, Seira.”
Seira, the girl who had regained some composure after initially being rigid with tension, offered a greeting while her voice trembled slightly. She had a broad shortsword hanging at her side and a bow strapped to her back, indicating she was ready for hunting with her practical attire.
”Um, I-I’m E-Eurhyu. Nice to meet you…!”
”You don’t have to be that nervous. Nice to meet you, Eurhyu.”
”Ah, no, um… I-I’m E-Eurus. Sorry, I got too nervous and stumbled. I’m sorry, I’m sorry…!”
He seems quite nervous. It’s unlikely that he’s this tense just because he’s facing a noble. He’s probably naturally prone to anxiety. He appears timid in nature, physically slight, and doesn’t seem suited for anything rough. He has a knife fastened to his belt, but it doesn’t show any signs of use, unlike the weapons of the other two.
At first glance, Eurus doesn’t seem suited for a security-related job, but ironically, I had the most expectations for Eurus among the three.
”Eurus, how proficient are you in using magic?”
”I could tell immediately since there were no disruptions in the flow of magical energy within your body. You seem to have the basics down. Did someone teach you?”
Seeing Eurus hesitate, I was beginning to think I had asked an inappropriate question when surprisingly, it was Ranbaa who reacted to it.
”Eurus! Did you seriously cut in line!?”
”Calm down a bit, Ranbaa. We’re in front of a noble, remember?”
”Huh? What does ‘cut in line’ mean?”
Ranbaa suddenly erupted in anger towards Eurus, Seira tried to calm him down, and in my state of confusion, Seira explained the situation.
”Actually, a traveling magician had come to our village once. We’ve been wanting to leave the village and go on a journey for a while, and we talked about needing enough strength to protect ourselves for that purpose. So, we asked that magician to teach us magic. They gave us a task, saying that if we completed it, they would teach us magic. However, we couldn’t fulfill the tasks they gave us, so we couldn’t receive magic training…”
Saying this, Seira looked towards Eurus. Though none of them were able to receive magic training due to failing the assigned tasks, it’s possible that Eurus secretly received training from that magician.
”I see. Could the task have been something like this? ‘To assess your potential, I’ll give you a task. I’ll teach you the symbols to conjure flames. If you can recite them, come to me.’”
”Oh, yes! Why would Master Neil know about that?”
”As I thought. This is a well-known inquiry among magicians. So, all three of you couldn’t conjure flames?”
”Yes, even though—”
”Ranbaa, Eurus didn’t cheat or cut in line. He answered the task properly.”
”Listen here. While the magician did say ‘I’ll give you a task,’ they never said the task was to conjure flames or that they’d teach magic if they could conjure flames.”
”W-Well, that’s true. Now that you mention it, they never actually said that. But then what was the task?”
”Hmm, that’s a rule that you shouldn’t share with anyone other than magicians. Eurus probably stayed silent about it too, as instructed.”
Ranbaa’s furrowed brow showed he still wasn’t satisfied with not understanding anything. If I left it like this, some awkward tension might linger among the three.
”Well, since the question has been asked and answered before, I’ll make an exception and tell you. The answer to this inquiry is to ‘question’ things.”
”Yeah, a question. Having rigid ideas like ‘this magic is limited to this type of effect’ or ‘this magic should be used in this way’ becomes a significant obstacle to the development of magic. To advance magic, you must discard such thinking. In other words, continuously questioning whether something is truly right or not is a crucial element in advancing magic. That’s the purpose of this inquiry. It contains multiple points of doubt within it.”
”Multiple, you say?”
”Didn’t that person never mention there was just one task? The most straightforward point of doubt is the difficulty level. It’s not normal to suddenly have amateurs who haven’t even completed the basics try to use fire attribute magic. The characters for manipulating fire’s principles are complex, and it’s not something that someone who hasn’t learned to manipulate magical energy properly can handle. Even if they managed to recite it, they’d end up burning themselves. Did both of you attempt it and find it too difficult?”
”True, we thought that way, but we thought maybe we had to do this much to be taught magic.”
”Getting rid of such misconceptions is also the purpose of this inquiry. Eurus, how many questions were you able to answer?”
”I-I was only able to answer the one Master Neil just talked about. I couldn’t answer anything else… I’m sorry.”
”No need to apologize. Besides, even just one answer is enough. In fact, that person recognized that and taught you magic, didn’t they?”
”Yeah, but they said, ‘I can’t teach you continuously since I’m traveling, and I’m not planning on taking apprentices. So, I’ll teach you only the basics of using magic.’ They taught me a simple spell, and after they left on their journey, I learned how to manipulate magical energy by reciting that spell.”
Hmm, it seems that having a foundation for using magic doesn’t necessarily mean they’re proficient in magic. Expecting too much from a ten-year-old who has just reached adulthood would be unfair.
”So, what if we were able to conjure flames?”
”Well, if an amateur could suddenly conjure flames, I’d consider it impressive talent, but as an assessment, it’s a bit ambiguous. What’s sought after isn’t the result but the words. After all, this is an ‘inquiry.’”
”Ugh… I can’t believe it—Ah, damn it!”
Ranbaa momentarily choked on his words at my response, then suddenly scratched his head and stomped his foot in frustration. Seemingly after venting his pent-up frustration, he turned to Eurus with a relieved expression and lowered his head.
”Sorry, Eurus! I shouldn’t have lashed out without knowing anything. It’s true, we can’t talk about this like this. Sorry for doubting!”
”No, it’s fine. I’m not upset or bothered, so lift your head up.”
”Let him be, Eurus, it’s an issue of Ranbaa’s feelings.”
”Yeah, just as she said. If I don’t do something like this to make myself feel better, it won’t sit right with me. Sorry, Eurus.”
”Uh, um…? Which meaning of ‘sorry’ was that?”
Eurus was confused by Ranbaa incessantly bowing, and he became flustered. Seira looked at the two in exasperation, and I had a gut feeling that these three would make a good team, watching their interactions.
After observing their behavior in silence for a while, Ranbaa suddenly raised his head.
”All right, apology over… But it still stings, being turned away based on intellect rather than skill.”
”Stop putting it like that. It makes it sound like my intellect is on par with yours since I couldn’t answer either.”
”That’s actually the case!”
”What did you say!?”
”Hey, hey, both of you…”
Sigh, just when I thought things had settled down, they started bickering again. Maybe it’s time for me to step in and mediate.
”Now, are you three forgetting someone?”
The three remembered my presence and simultaneously lowered their heads.
”While it’s fine to have such close relationships that you’d fight, consider the time and place. Personally, I’m not someone who’s that concerned, but it’s different how those around you perceive it.”
As I said this, I glanced toward Gibbett-san, who was visibly fuming beside me. The three followed my gaze and looked at Gibbett-san’s face, causing all three to turn pale.
”Master Neil, I deeply apologize. …All three of you, we’ll have a talk later.”
Gibbett-san’s words, filled with anger, made the three visibly tremble. But Gibbett-san had every right to be angry. It was fortunate that I was present; however, if they had done something similar in front of another noble, they might have incurred that noble’s wrath. In that case, the three would have faced consequences, and even Gibbett-san who brought them might have faced some form of punishment. I couldn’t sympathize with them on that front. And so, amidst the slight commotion, the manpower for security in the settlement increased.
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Edited by Kanaa-senpai.
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