༺ The First Request ༻
A few hours after the recruitment notice for the ‘Mock Crime Consultation Club’ was posted all over the academy.
“It was I who trusted you and stamped the permit and it was also I who willingly accepted your request and participated in the interviews.”
Professor Moriarty, who had been dealing with the students that had come to the office for interviews with me, spoke to me in a low voice.
“But now, I’m starting to regret that decision.”
As she spoke, she twirled a strand of hair around her finger and turned her gaze forward.
“I’m saying this as I watch those pathetic antics.”
A student seated in front of us was desperately using all their strength to wield mana in the meantime.
“Well, how is it? Isn’t it red enough?”
“Does the student not know the difference between orange and red?”
At Moriarty’s words, who was watching the charade with a bored expression, the student stopped their mana manipulation and started scratching their head.
“I, I tried my best…”
With that, he received the notification of his failure and stomped out of the office, grumbling under his breath.
“Thanks to that peculiar condition you have set up, the interview room has turned into a mana demonstration site for students aiming for extra points in the club.”
“How much longer do I have to watch those idiots strain themselves to produce a red mana that surely doesn’t exist in London?”
Professor Moriarty, leaning on her desk with sleepy eyes, throws this question at me while staring at me with an intense gaze.
“Here, have one of these.”
She seemed quite drained, so I took out a sugar cube from the bag I had confiscated from her due to health concerns and handed it over to her.
“Just wait a little longer. The person I’ve been waiting for will definitely come.”
“I’ll give you another sugar cube, so please wait patiently.”
She didn’t seem too satisfied by my proposition, but after I took out one more sugar cube and placed it in her hand, she finally popped it into her mouth and chewed contentedly— nodding her head in the process.
Around this time I found myself entranced by a strange feeling, as if I had somehow become her dedicated tamer.
Before even being told to enter, the door to the interview room opened, and a girl stepped in.
“Is this the Mock Crime Consultation Club?”
A neat and earnest-looking girl with reddish-brown bobbed hair was timidly posing a question to us.
‘Just as the saying goes, “Speak of the devil and they shall appear.”‘
After briefly observing the student, who looked like a model student to just about anyone, I murmured to myself and wore a satisfied smile.
“I am in the second year, affiliated with the student council. My name is Victoria Spaulding.”
‘I knew she couldn’t resist coming to this place.’
“I look forward to working with you!”
It was because the fourth smartest girl in London, who had her Red-Headed League case stolen by me, had finally appeared before us.
“Professor, what are you doing?”
“I told you, didn’t I? When you meet a client for the first time, you should start with an analysis.”
In response to her greeting, I nodded slightly as a gesture of acknowledgment. Then, while Moriarty was still leaning over the book, I tapped her lightly and began to whisper softly into her ears.
“Understanding a client’s information is fundamental for a crime consultant, Professor.”
“…Understood, Mr. Adler.”
At that moment, her eyes began to shine quietly.
“Please take a seat, Senior Spaulding.”
After briefly observing Moriarty’s eyes, which looked as though she had spotted her prey, I shifted my gaze to the girl in front of me.
“The interview will now begin.”
It was time to find another victim to relieve the professor’s boredom along with me.
“Now, would you first demonstrate your use of mana, Senior?”
“Do… Do I have to?”
The girl, who introduced herself as Victoria Spaulding, threw a slightly bewildered question at Adler’s request.
“You don’t have to, but is there a specific reason why you’re avoiding it?”
“Is there a reason? Student?”
Then Adler, tilting his head to the side asked her another question. Meanwhile, Professor Moriarty at his side, mimicked Adler’s words like a trained parrot.
“I, I’m still not good at handling mana… Hehe.”
“That’s fine. As long as we can see the color, there won’t be a problem.”
“Then… I will try.”
Watching Adler and Moriarty’s expressions, the girl eventually succumbed to their pressure and extended her right hand, beginning to summon her mana.
And shortly after, a faint, match-flame-sized, rosy aura began to emanate from her hand.
“As, as you can see… this is my limit.”
“Originally, the inherent color of mana follows the user’s hair color. In this London, where red hair does not exist, it would be impossible… wouldn’t it?”
With that pitiable appearance, the girl quietly made excuses, pointing to her own crimson hair.
“But… why did you include such a strange condition?”
“Although it is a mock club, it is still a crime consultation club, isn’t it? We need someone who can use red mana to simulate a crime scene.”
At that moment, in response to her timid question, Adler replied.
Quietly mumbling to herself, the girl suddenly stood up from her seat.
“…I just remembered I have something urgent to attend to.”
“Is that so?”
“I’m sorry. I should get going…”
“Before you leave, I have one question for you, senior.”
And then, toward the girl who was hastily trying to leave, Adler threw one question.
“If you were to join our club, what crime would you like to consult on?”
At his words, she paused for a brief moment and then replied with a bright smile on her face.
“Um… I’m not sure? But robbing London’s top bank has been a childhood dream of mine.”
At her words, Adler, quietly lifting the corners of his mouth, whispered to her in a low voice.
“For Princess Joan Clay, of royal blood, what could possibly be lacking that would drive you to such an act?”
And then, a tense silence began.
“…I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
Standing frozen in place, the girl, who had been staring intently at Adler, soon broke the silence with a puzzled expression on her face.
“I am just a simple farmer’s daughter. I was admitted to this academy merely because I happened to be born with the ability to use mana…”
“Student, it isn’t a good habit to put your hand in your pocket and focus all your mana there now, is it?”
But in the middle of her monologue Professor Moriarty’s voice, tinged with amusement and intrigue, interrupted her.
“Someone might misunderstand and think you’re preparing for a battle.”
When the girl closed her mouth at that voice… Professor Moriarty soon added, tapping her finger on the table…
“Especially when a vampire, known throughout Europe for nearly being hunted to extinction, exhibits such behavior— it’s highly inappropriate.”
“Even if you are a noble young lady hiding your status… At the very least, within this academy, the authority of a professor is superior, you know…”
And right after she finished speaking,
The girl let out a cold sigh and sat back down in the chair.
“How did you figure it out?”
The once seemingly inadequate appearance was completely gone as the girl crossed her legs arrogantly and asked that question in a haughty tone…
“The faint smell of hair dye. The red stubble on the back of your neck that you failed to completely get rid of.
“Unlike the other fools trying to turn their mana red, your efforts to somehow make your mana appear orange. When you put all these clues together, there can only be one answer, can’t there?”
“I’m not sure how my adorable assistant knew, but red mana is a characteristic that only vampires can possess. Am I wrong in saying that?”
As Moriarty’s explanation ended, the girl wore an expression as if to say that was quite impressive, and spoke up…
“I thought you were just some nobodies, but you are clearly not ordinary.”
“You are far from ordinary as well. You used a very unique perfume to counteract your scent, and you meticulously removed the hair on your body to the point where I almost didn’t notice for a second…”
“But that very meticulousness became your downfall. A poor farmer’s daughter wouldn’t be able to use such an exotic perfume, and wouldn’t be able to shave so cleanly either.”
Professor Moriarty, having finished her explanation, wore a greatly excited expression on her mesmerizing face.
“By the way, the part about the smell of the hair dye was a lie. The scent of the perfume was so unique that I just made a random guess. Next time, try developing a habit of persisting to the end.”
Her face looked like that of a young girl who was riding a rollercoaster for the first time in her life.
“…This is irritating.”
Capturing that expression with her eyes, the girl, Joan Clay, began to murmur in a cold voice,
“I never expected there to be a hunter in this academy as well.”
And in the next moment.
A deep red aura began radiating from her body and surrounded her on all sides.
“But for someone with a sharp mind, you’ve made a quite foolish choice…”
Clay, who filled the room with her mana that burned like red blood, whispered in a voice that sounded amused rather than frightened at being discovered.
“To face me, you should have brought at least a hundred hunters. What can you two possibly do?”
“Did you come here this unguarded because you are confident that you can escape?”
“I have no desire to continue talking with hunters.”
Clay’s mana, which firmly rejected Moriarty’s question, began to surge like waves.
At the same time, Professor Moriarty, wearing a chilling smile, raised her finger.
“I must respectfully disagree, Lady Clay.”
At that critical moment, Adler, who urgently pulled down Professor Moriarty’s hand, began to speak.
“We are not hunters.”
“I don’t care. As long as you know my true identity…”
“We are criminal consultants, sincerely willing to assist you, Lady Clay, in your plot to resurrect vampires in the 19th century.”
At those words, Princess Joan Clay furrowed her brows and looked at Adler.
“The initial reason we lured you here Lady, was to receive a request from you.”
“I can manage perfectly well on my own; why should I need your help then?”
“Because a genius girl in London will stand in your way.”
“Even if that weren’t the case, now that we know your plan, executing it would be more or less impossible.”
At Adler’s words, Clay scoffed.
“As I said just now, I can simply kill all of you here…”
“If we don’t send a cancellation command, by tomorrow morning, the newspapers will be plastered with articles about you.”
But Adler, too, did not back down easily.
“Ah, of course, that is insurance for our lives. We are not exactly forcing you to entrust us with a request. If you choose to leave without doing so, there will be no harm done.
“But let me make this clear now, without our help, your plan is doomed to fail.”
After Adler’s explanation concluded, Professor Moriarty, with a smile lingering on her lips, added some more words to Adler’s claims.
“Because your plan is flawed from the very foundation.”
And then, silence once again began to flow through the room.
“What are you talking about?”
“I will tell you that after you have entrusted us with the request, my dear student.”
At Professor Moriarty’s composed voice Clay, who had been glaring at them with an annoyed expression soon opened her mouth.
“What’s the fee for the request?”
“I have more than enough money so I must receive something special. How about you becoming my familiar, Lady Clay?”
“I’ll take that as you saying you want to die right now.”
“On the contrary, if you are dissatisfied with the results in any way, I will become your servant instead.”
Once again, Clay, who had been sending out ripples through her mana, began to ponder quietly upon hearing that proposal.
“If you write down exactly what you just said in a contract and sign it, then I will specifically entrust you with my request.”
“Of course, it will be a contract bound by Contract Magic.”
“Naturally, that is how we must proceed.”
When Adler agreed all too easily, Clay looked at him with a momentarily dubious expression, then soon whispered with a chuckle.
“If you’re so keen on becoming my servant, I could make you one right this instant.”
“Rather than just becoming a servant, it would be more certain through a contract.”
With that, she took out a quill pen from her bosom, murmuring in a soft voice.
“Having the scum of London at my beck and call like a dog could be quite entertaining.”
The criminal consultation contract with Adler and Clay’s signatures was completed a few minutes after that.
“Well, then… Farewell!”
Clay, who had somehow returned to her usual naive demeanor loudly bid them goodbye as she stepped out of the office.
“…Professor, you must be pleased.”
Finally feeling relaxed, I sighed and quietly spoke to Professor Moriarty, who was sitting beside me.
“Because our first case has finally come to us.”
Our first case, which would later be called the Red Mana League.
Facing that case at last, Professor Moriarty replied with a faint smile and a soft voice.
“I will kill… if you become someone else’s, Adler dear.”
No, it wasn’t a reply; it was a murder threat.
How could someone make such a chilling statement while wearing such a radiant smile?
“Me? Or her?”
“Consider it as both of you dying.”
“…To avoid dying, I suppose we must work hard on this case.”
While having such a thought I too was becoming quite adept at dealing with this kind of situation, which felt rather astonishing to me, to say the least.
“But earlier, why did you grab my hand?”
Professor Moriarty, who seemed to be inwardly smirking, suddenly posed this question.
“Because it would be bad if a pointless fight led to injuries.”
Of course, the one who would be injured from a pointless fight would have been Lady Clay.
Regardless of who she might be, the final boss of this world – whose powers were unknown till now – was not someone that the likes of Joan Clay could best.
I didn’t particularly want to subdue her from the very beginning— the one who would become the professor’s top-tier servant along with me.
“Why are you grinning at me like that?”
“You really are amusing.”
“That kind of gaze is definitely sexual harassment, Professor.”
As I was about to stand from my seat, exchanging light banter with Professor Moriarty—
As the office door began to open again, I turned my eyes in that direction, wondering if Lady Clay had returned.
I soon spat out a light curse under my breath and froze in place at the scene that registered in my eyes.
“Is this the Mock Crime Consultation Club?”
Because standing before my eyes, wearing the uniform of the August Detective Academy paired with a cold smile on her cute face, was none other than Charlotte Holmes.
Why the hell was she here now, fucking dammit!