Since it was impossible to calmly talk in the guild, Midas and Pajou led Hifumi and the others to a restaurant to eat. Pajou could use the private room, everyone went there.
The restaurant near the aristocratic area, “Pluton” was indeed different, waiters wearing simple yet elegant clothes led them to the room.
Hearing the name of the restaurant, Midas got cold feet, but Hifumi assented to pay.
「 Veteran of the Knight Corps, do not hesitate to pay in a restaurant of this degree. As a Knight, it is shameful. 」
「 Pajou, as a single daughter of a count, you will not understand the hardships of having a wife and children. 」
Entering the room, the Knights took verbal jabs at each other.
「 Though its good that you two are getting along well, I’m hungry. Waiter, what is delicious in this restaurant? 」
Entering the room, Hifumi passed several silver coins to the waiter, the slaves sitting at his sides pretended to read the menu.
Unexpectedly gaining money, the waiter smiled widely.
「 Today, the stock of Bighorn meat is good. It is recommended to have it cooked with Oran sauce and stew of the Sodorant style. Red wine is also available. 」
「 Well then, get both, wine as well. 」
Origa and Kasha were unaccustomed to restaurants of this level, but after looking at the menu interestedly, they gave their respective orders. Pajou seemed accustomed, and asking the waiter various things, decided her order. Midas ordered the same things as Pajou.
「 Master, from your behaviour just now, are you used to fine dining? 」(Origa)
「 If you’re coming for the first time and cannot decide, get the professional’s recommendation, that’s how it is. 」 (Hifumi)
First off, though unable to read the menu, watching Hifumi maintain a serious attitude, Origa felt some respect towards him.
So young, but has the character of an adult. I’m a little envious. (Pajou)
Hifumi ignored Pajou’s smirking, as it would be bothersome.
Bighorn meat tasted the same as beef. As the waiter said, the steak was moderately chewy, yet softly melted in the mouth. The sourness of the sauce went well with the meat’s delicious sweetness, the dish was a big hit. As for the stew, which contained both vegetables and meat, had a very delicious and complex flavour to it.
Kasha, overwhelmed by the delicious food, asked Hifumi for seconds.
Pleasantly acknowledging her, Hifumi hailed a waiter. This time the same steak as Hifumi’s was ordered.
「 Kind to the slaves, isn’t he? 」(Midas)
Pajou had a surprised look on her face on hearing that.
「 Be they slaves or nobles, living as a person is same for everyone. Faces are different, genders are different, strength is different, social standings are different. Even with so many differences, they’re all the same when sliced up. 」(Hifumi)
Though Midas was surprised to hear it, Pajou was unperturbed.
「 I too, on joining the Knight Corps and slipping into the mannerisms of the commoners, my way of thinking changed. Brought up being taught that nobles are special existences, and protecting the ordinary people is what it means to be a Knight. But nothing changes. Being delighted at some trifling good fortune, getting unreasonably angry at something, crying at unexpected misfortune. Thinking about it, slaves are the same. 」(Pajou)
「 However, please be careful about the matter regarding the Marquis. There are many fanatical people out there who consider being a noble as a special privilege…. The majority of them, I think. Nobles in name like me, have smaller territories where the gap between the us and the commoners is small. 」(Pajou)
「 Though people with superiority complexes are occasionally good diversions, they are harmful when left to themselves. For that reason, I think that stimulus like me is necessary to knock down their conceit. 」
It was a joke, Hifumi continued, but the two Knights fell silent.
「 Master, do you wish to fight with the nobles? 」
Origa asked the difficult-to-ask question for the Knights.
「 Not quite. It’s nothing to me if they look down on slaves. As far as I’m concerned, it’s only a matter of whether they get in my way or not. 」
Getting an answer that did nothing to reassure them, the two Knights were unable to say anything and were just relieved to know there was no hostility towards them.
Finishing the meal and drinking black tea, Hifumi got to the point.
「 Then, let me hear what Imeraria has prepared. 」
「 Ee, first is the monetary reward. 」
Midas tensely pulled out a small bag from his uniform.
Hifumi checked the contents, there were several silver coins in it.
「 …… By any chance, is this country poor? 」
「 You should know the answer to that! 」
Unable to endure, Pajou retorted but since Hifumi did not seem to mind, Midas felt relieved.
「 It seems that the “reward being given” is a peerage just to keep up appearances. Ah well, not that it matters. 」
「 Speaking of Associate Knights, their stipend is nonexistent, and there’s hardly any change from a commoner’s standing…. 」
From Origa’s words, Hifumi guessed the reason for this action.
「 In short, keeping me in your pocket is scary, but so is me allying with foreign hostile country. Therefore, while guaranteeing personal liberty, giving me an unimportant peerage among nobles will show that I am affiliated with this country. 」
Midas gulped loudly on hearing Hifumi’s precise analysis. True, the peerage existed as an honorary title. Depending on the interpretation, it may be seen as Orsongrande being miserly.
「 With it, this is to be given as a special favour from Princess Imeraria. 」
Pajou took out a rolled-up paper bound with a red string from her uniform. Not parchment, it was proper paper, though strangely thick.
「 …… I cannot read the characters of this country. 」
Opening the paper passed to her, Origa carefully began to read it.
「 …… A Free Travel permit. From the Orsongrande royalty, travel of Touno Hifumi and his servants within and outside the country is permitted. Signature of authorisation, Imeraria Torie Orsongrande. 」
Aside from Origa who was reading, Kasha too was speechless.
Since there are noble’s territories in various places, entering and leaving such places had some restrictions, even peddlers and adventurers were strictly scrutinised. Even more so if travelling to another country. It’s usually said that farmers and the like spend their entire lives in the towns and villages in which they were born without travelling.
However, anyone with the Royal Family’s permit cannot be stopped, regardless the number of people travelling. It’s an extremely high-level protection.
「 However, it is only useful within this country. In a hostile country, far from not being able to enter, there’s the possibility of being attacked. 」
To Hifumi coolly declaring the state of affairs, Kasha and Origa stared at him in surprise.
The two Knights had on bitter expressions.
「 After all, this is a chain feigning freedom. Telling us to be within range of your sight isn’t it? 」
Midas and Pajou did not meet Hifumi’s intent gaze. They broke out in a cold sweat and their wine-induced comfortable intoxication vanished as well.
「 That…….what Princess Imeraria is thinking, we do not know. But I think it is convenient for your travels…… 」
「 Ee? Master? 」
「 Ahaha ! Well, though there might be someone who suggested this, the woman I saw yesterday seemed to be quite pure and naive, is she capable of something like this? Interesting, truly interesting! 」
Everyone was bewildered at Hifumi’s sudden laughter.
「 Imeraria, does she have talent for politics? Different from her appearance indeed. 」(Hifumi)
Midas timidly corrected Hifumi while drinking tea.
「 Imeraria-sama is originally pure, our people call her the princess shrine maiden. Unrelated to trickery, this is the first time we Third Knight Corps have been personally instructed. 」
「 But it is understandable, the event in the castle may have had a large influence on Imeraria-sama. Neither the Prince nor the Queen have recovered, only Imeraria-sama is working hard to manage the current conditions. 」(Pajou)
Seeing the two Knights trying to correct his impression of Imeraria, even though they were afraid of offending him, Hifumi felt at ease.
「 Very well then. I accept the compensation from the princess out of respect for her loyal and hardworking Knights. 」
Saying so, Hifumi received the medal indicating his Associate Knight’s title from Pajou.
「 Talking to you, there is no time to relax. 」 (Pajou)
「 Seriously. Watching from a distance is much easier. 」(Midas)
(TN: Okay, the next few lines confused me, so take them with a pinch of salt.)
「 You won’t be bored. Right? 」(Pajou)
Requesting agreement from Hifumi, Pajou smiled watching Origa nodd docilely, Kasha was wearing a cramped smile. Pajou’s smile froze at Hifumi’s next words.
「 However, methods like these won’t stop me. 」
Leaving the shop, Midas and Pajou separated from Hifumi, since the hotel and castle were in opposite directions. Outside the restaurant, there was another presence that seemed to be another Knight.
「 Midas, Pajou. 」
Hifumi, who called out to the Knights had a serious gaze.
「 Tell Imeraria to give up. Don’t even think about manipulating me. Make a move only after considering everything. Move your people as much as possible, and after collecting information, analyse it well. 」 (TN: I modified this line. Again, pinch of salt.)
Turning away from the two nodding Knights, Hifumi began to walk towards the hotel with the two slaves. The sun had completely set, relying on Origa’s magic to form a light, they advanced along the dark road.
「 Master, what is the significance of your words some time ago? 」
Why does this one have an interest in everything?, thinking such, Hifumi answered Origa’s question.
「 Obtain information from everywhere, watch the enemy’s patterns and think of various possibilities to avoid defeat. Politics and fighting are very similar. Misunderstanding my own strength may lead to everything ending in an instant. 」
Suddenly understanding something, Origa was lost in thought.
「 What? With master’s strength, a thought like that is just too modest. 」(Kasha)
「 Fool. I’m also a normal human being. Attacked unawares, anyone will die when cut. You or me, nothing is different. Only the results of great effort can be shown without carelessness. 」
Kasha inclined her head thinking, Even if that is the case, will Hifumi really die on being cut? Even injuring him is unimaginable.
「 We will go out of the town tomorrow morning and practice. I will continue coaching you two after seeing your movements and growth. 」
「 Yes, thank you very much. 」
Origa bowed happily, while Kasha wore a tired expression.
In his room at the hotel, Hifumi was experimenting with his Darkness Magic.
First testing the storage, the bed was completely stored and then retrieved.
Are living things no good?
Trying to store a fly on the wall, it hit the Dark Hole like an obstacle. Hifumi’s attempt to enter it was also a failure. It felt like there was an invisible glass wall preventing entry.
Changing the idea and thinking of an image in which his arm was wrapped by the Darkness Magic, his arm disappeared from sight.
Wrapping his whole body in the Darkness Magic, isolated from sight and sound, he could not confirm he was completely hidden, since there was no one else present.
Repeating the experiment while thinking of any possible uses, thinking of using other magic, were the methods and aptitude different?
Come to think of it, Origa has her staff, and that Strauss in the Marquis’ place generated magic with a knife.
It seemed necessary to properly study magic, thought Hifumi.
A lot of enjoyable things to do. A fun life.
Satisfied, Hifumi finished up his practice, and crawled into the bed.
「 For a while, I will firmly train those two. 」
Excited with the prospect of having pupils, Hifumi went to sleep.