space where experiments and research were conducted throughout the day.
From the outside, you’d think the tower would be high up in the sky, but it’s not.
There were more underground levels than above ground.
The higher-ranking mages had their laboratories in the deeper basement levels.
The reason why they lived in isolation from the empire even though they were in the empire was because the tower was an underground city.
Outsiders couldn’t find it, even though it was right in front of them, because of the prejudice that it must be high in the sky.
Others claimed that the tower was invisible due to illusionary magic, but they were wrong.
The reason they couldn’t find it was because of magic.
Therefore, the sites of experimentation and research recognized by mages who live their entire lives in research and experimentation are underground.
“Very well, then.”
The warrior said crisply.
He gestured toward the door.
Puzzled, I released the soundproofing spell, and the door swung open with a snap.
Herrin muttered in disbelief.
The Count stepped into the room, his face friendly.
“It’s almost time for dinner, and I was worried when I heard there was no movement inside.”
He gestured around the room.
I stared at the warrior.
How did he know, I wondered.
“…It’s just that I’m getting older and more worried.”
Do you understand? The Count’s eyes were fixed on the warrior.
The warrior smiled and said it was all right.
I found myself staring at the mage, who had checked the room in the intervening moments and signaled the earl with a nod.
He seemed to be looking for signs of magic.
I saw his eyes sparkle with magic.
I would have to find a way to leave no trace of magic in the future.
It was annoying.
We headed straight to the banquet hall.
Once we were all seated, food was brought to the table.
“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to serve our heroes, sent down by the Lord.”
“I’m ashamed to say I’m not yet a hero.”
“Oh, no, there’s no way the heir to the Wood family will fail to slay the demon, not only this old man, but everyone else is looking forward to it, haha!”
Tongues rolled back and forth, greasier than in the daytime.
This time, the warrior was calm and graceful.
After a few ping-pongs, he spoke our purpose.
“By the way, I heard a curious story on the way here.”
“A strange story, you say?”
“They said there were some people who went into the forest and became able to do magic.”
“That’s an amazing story, but….
What’s wrong with that?”
“Well, they were all acting like they’d lost their minds.”
That’s a shame, because they could have been a mage.”
“Yes, it is.
So, did you get a report?”
I’m told the guards have been mobilized.
The warrior stood, his handsomeness even more pronounced.
The chandeliers sprinkled sparkling light.
The earl’s face hardened for a moment, then he smiled as if he knew something.
“My, did they do that on my estate? Let me see.”
The earl seemed to soften his words.
“By the way, warrior.
You’re still in training to be the heir, so I’m guessing you didn’t realize this.”
“It is an unwritten rule that even members of the same noble family do not gossip about other nobles’ estates.”
The earl spoke as if he was about to reveal something great.
It was a far cry from his laid-back demeanor earlier.
It was like an elderly man reprimanding a child for a bad prank.
The emphasis on the word ‘heir’ was particularly telling.
I wiggled my fingers in concern, and the warrior smiled even wider.
“Oh, you must have misunderstood.
Don’t worry, I learned it all from the Marquis without the Count’s interference.”
“That’s true, but why….”
“But I am a warrior now, am I not, and naturally it is my duty to investigate when something strange and suspicious happens.”
Haha, I guess the count only knows about slaying demons and not much else.
For the first time, the warrior’s words stung.
I carefully put my fork down in the freezing atmosphere.
All good food, made with the finest ingredients.
But my appetite dropped.
“…In other words, our estate has ties to the devil, is that what you’re saying? Can you take responsibility for that?”
The earl’s cheeks twitched in irritation.
“That will have to be investigated, sir, but wouldn’t it be a good thing if what happened in the manor could be uncovered and resolved, so that the ‘ever happy manor’ could be preserved?”
Their conversation grew more and more direct.
It was a far cry from the probing, naked praise they had offered each other when they had first arrived.
Aristocrats say it’s either a war of words or a fiefdom war….
I was worried, by the way.
I hadn’t realized the earl would be so eager to ask questions.
I hadn’t even searched the castle yet.
In this mood, questions like where he bought the bed would be out of the question.
What a shame.
My eyes fell on the butler, who seemed to know the bedmaker second only to the count.
Maybe I could sneak up and ask him… maybe he’d tell me since I’m a guest?
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