༺ Auction (3) ༻
Late at night, in the mansion’s lodging.
Vera sat on a chair with his arms crossed, glaring at the shortsword he had placed on the table.
It was the unsightly shortsword he had bought from the auction house.
He bought it because it resonated with the energy that had settled inside him after eating Aedrin’s fruit, but Vera’s expression as he looked at the shortsword was not good.
‘It’s reacting, but…’
It was ‘only’ reacting.
Aedrin’s energy inside him only resonated with the shortsword, but caused no other phenomena.
‘…Even when I hold it in my hand, it’s the same.’
A small resonance spread within him, but that was all.
There was no response even when he injected divinity or stimulated the shortsword.
Just what was this shortsword?
If it resonated with Aedrin’s energy, it should be related to the ancient species. However, he felt frustrated because he couldn’t figure out how they were related.
He let out a sigh, and his face crumpled up.
While tapping the shortsword with his index finger, Vera suddenly thought of a different approach.
‘…I should ask someone who might know.’
If he couldn’t figure it out himself, he should ask someone with relevant knowledge.
Fortunately, there was someone around Vera who knew a great deal about weapons.
It was late now, so it seemed he would have to go see him as soon as the sun rose tomorrow.
“Firstly, it was not made for practical use.”
Those were the words of Dovan as he examined the shortsword.
Dovan turned the shortsword over and over in his hands, his eyes deep in thought as he spoke.
“I don’t know the exact purpose, but it’s probably something used for ceremonial or ancestral rites. See the angle at which the sword is bent here? Normally, a sharp bend like that would ruin the center of gravity and cause the blade to dull quickly. It’s hard to use it for slaughter, let alone combat.”
Vera nodded to Dovan’s words and followed suit, examining the shortsword.
“Can you tell how old it is? Or maybe some rough information about the era it was used in?”
“I can’t tell. The preservation of iron objects varies depending on the storage condition, so I can’t determine just by looking at a blade like this.”
As Dovan scratched the surface of the blade with his fingernail, the rust that had accumulated on it was slightly scraped.
“I heard it was found in the ruins of the canyon at the west end. Considering that the ruins in that area were built at least 2,000 years ago… we can assume it was made before the four-digit years.”
An object dating back at least 20 centuries before.
Vera’s expression darkened at those words.
“…There probably aren’t any proper records.”
“That’s right. If it’s an artifact from the Age of Gods, it would be difficult to find any information.”
An Era of Destruction.
Since it was an object from that era called the Age of Gods, almost all records had now disappeared, and few people would know about it.
If Vera had to pick someone who might know, it would be the ‘Elves,’ the only species from the Age of Gods that hadn’t perished. Among them, it would probably be Friede that would know, but…
‘…Going back to the Great Woodlands is impossible.’
It would be too inefficient to go back the way they came just because of this shortsword.
As Vera continued to think, Dovan spoke up after noticing his sunken expression.
“Well, if you’re going to look for related documents, I think it’s a good idea to go to Tellon Academy. I’m sure the scholars there would know something.”
“Isn’t that where all the oddballs are? I heard that there are some researchers studying the civilization of the Age of Gods there, too.”
Vera’s eyes glistened.
There was something that came to mind at Dovan’s words.
The Sorcerer Miller. And the ‘Whispers of the Dream Demon’ grimoire that he retrieved.
‘It was definitely an object from the Age of Gods as well.’
It was an object related to a species from a ruined era and was said to be an object being studied at the Academy.
‘If I met the researchers…’
Perhaps I could learn something.
It wasn’t merely the origins of the shortsword.
Fiddling with the short shortsword on his hip, Vera continued to think.
‘…The Devourer of Life.’
There was also the dagger containing the power of the Demon King that he had collected from Gillie.
There might be people who know about this item.
“Thank you. That was very helpful.”
“Don’t mention it.”
Dovan waved his hand and returned the shortsword to Vera, then shifted the conversation to another topic, noticing Vera’s brightened expression.
“…I heard you’ve been teaching Aisha lately.”
“How is she? Is she keeping up with her lessons?”
His words were mixed with a hint of concern.
Was that something called a parent’s concern for their child?
Feeling strangely warm to see Dovan showing signs of concern even though he wasn’t Aisha’s biological parent, Vera replied in a soft tone.
“She’s a talented kid. If she keeps growing like this, she might become one of the best paladins in the Holy Kingdom.”
“Hoho! Is that so? That’s truly fortunate. Well, even if Aisha might not know other things, she surely has a knack for agility. She’s been incredibly nimble since she was young. Once she started causing trouble, she could turn the whole forge upside down…”
With a cheerful expression, Dovan began to chatter.
It was a boastful statement about Aisha, and it was spoken with unconcealed joy and affection.
Vera nodded quietly at his words and responded once in a while, a small smile tugging around his lips.
Late afternoon, in the backyard of the mansion.
Vera continued sparring with Aisha for her training as usual.
“Your sword movements are too obvious. You’re clumsy. If you want to make a swift attack, throw away the petty tricks. If you want to use tricks, just focus on that. If you’re greedy to do both, it will only result in mediocre swordplay.”
Vera’s indifferent words made Aisha’s expression crumple.
Vera, seeing Aisha’s lips pouting in response, crossed his arms and spoke in a mocking tone.
“If you’re annoyed, try to attack me.”
It was a blatant provocation, and Aisha’s eyes narrowed sharply.
Aisha rushed forward, but Vera slightly turned his body and tripped Aisha’s advancing foot, causing her to stumble and fall.
“It was better than a little while ago. Yeah, you can’t use the Illusive Sword because your head is bad, so focus on the Quick Sword like that.”
Aisha trembled in anger.
She said those words in an angry tone, as if trying to provoke him.
Of course, it didn’t work on Vera.
He gave her a provocation in return. Aisha, whose face turned red at that, charged once again.
And once again, she went flying.
Seeing Aisha flail in the air, Vera said with a snort.
“If you’re going to provoke someone, observe them well and say something that can shake their heart.”
Aisha, who landed safely on the ground, began to ponder Vera’s words.
Words that could poke at the opponent’s vulnerabilities.
Words worthy of punching that annoying face.
Recalling what Renee’s servant called Vera while playing with Renee the other day, Aisha let out stuttering words.
Vera froze. His eyes widened. It was because it felt like he knew what that meant and why.
Could it be that Renee cursed at him as a blockhead behind his back? That thought suddenly disturbed Vera’s composure, and Aisha’s eyes twinkled at that.
Aisha’s eyes sparkled as she realized that Vera was visibly flustered by the words she had just thrown out, even though she did not know what they meant.
Aisha didn’t miss the opportunity and charged again. Startled, Vera adjusted his stance belatedly.
Aisha grinned and spat out another word to Vera, who raised his hand.
“You’re such a dunce!”
Vera’s expression darkened.
Aisha’s fist shot out. Vera thought mindlessly to himself, ‘Did the Saint really say something like that?’ and swung his arms to flip Aisha over.
Aisha once again soared into the air, muttering curses under her breath.
‘It’s not working!’
She was angry because the provocation, meant to hit its mark, had no effect at all.
Of course, Vera, who had no clue about it, felt a rising melancholy and a sense of unease.
Four more days had passed.
Today was the day of Albrecht’s coming-of-age ceremony and ball.
While Renee was getting dressed and putting on a priest robe for the evening’s coming-of-age ceremony blessing, she suddenly felt a peculiar feeling.
As a farmer’s daughter from a rural estate, Renee had never even imagined attending such an event.
Thinking that she would actually be going to such a place, she felt unfamiliar emotions. Tension also began to set in.
It wasn’t the tension related to the attention during the ceremony that bothered her. She had already become accustomed to such things in the Holy Kingdom.
Rather, she was nervous about wearing a dress for the first time in her life, and the thought of it not suiting her made her anxious.
What if Vera thought the dress didn’t look good on her?
Such thoughts made her stomach churn.
Continuing her thoughts, Renee struggled to suppress the rising anxiety.
‘Marie said I was pretty.’
Hadn’t Annie, Hela, other apprentice priests, and even Aisha, who was not interested at all in dressing up, also said that she was pretty?
It would be disrespectful to them if she showed such a lack of confidence.
“Now, all we need to do is put on the veil. Saint, could you lift your head for a moment?”
Annie’s words interrupted her thoughts. Renee raised her head slightly at that.
She felt a thin fabric being gently draped over her head. The veil covered the back of her head and fell forward, partially obscuring her eyes. Renee felt a sense of suffocation, and in a slightly grumpy voice, she asked a question.
“Do I really have to wear this?”
“It is an official event after all…”
“I mean, my face will be visible to everyone once I change into the dress anyway.”
“It’s about the atmosphere. When they hear that it’s the Saint’s blessing, many people imagine a mysterious ambiance. In particular, nobles tend to be particularly enamored about such things. “
Annie’s hands were moving busily even as she spoke.
“And this can be another weapon.”
“For Sir Vera.”
Renee’s face slightly heated up at the mention of Vera. Unconsciously, her body leaned towards Annie, indirectly showing how much she was focusing on her words.
It was a reaction caused by clearly seeing the effects of Annie’s advice on the previous date.
Annie giggled at the sight and added another piece of advice.
“When you’ve been wrapped up like this, then boom! You change into a dress and show off your body. How surprised will Sir Vera be? The bigger the difference, the bigger the effect. Because men are vulnerable to visual stimuli.”
Renee’s lips pursed tightly. She became stiff with tension when she heard that she had to show her body.
“And if you stagger a bit in that state and lean on Sir Vera!!!”
A wicked grin appeared on Annie’s lips.
“The game is over. Do you remember? You have to highlight your collarbone and neck. Create that pitiful image! The kind of mood where he wants to protect you and hold you tight!”
As Annie’s words got longer, her distinctive lively accent began to intensify.
“And if you just have a drink…!”
Renee’s bewildered cry followed. Feeling her face flush with embarrassment, Renee stammered out an excuse, blurting out a different reason from what she had just thought about moments before.
“I- I’m still a minor, so alcohol… Yes. Alcohol is not allowed.”
As Renee hurriedly spoke, needlessly flustered by the feast of her dark history that attacked without warning, Annie licked her lips as if feeling regretful.
“Ah, that’s right. That’s a shame. Then we’ll go without alcohol.”
Renee quickly nodded hard to express her affirmation.
“I-I can do this…!”
She encouraged herself with those words.
‘Neck, collarbone, pretending to fall on purpose!’
In her mind, she kept repeating Annie’s words as if she had received teachings from a sage.
For her long and lengthy final event in the Empire, Renee was determined to do something big at this ball.