Old Jemma had seen through me in less than half a day. What was I going to do… What should I do? In terms of negotiations, I knew that I wouldn't stand a chance against a veteran like him. But nothing good would come out of killing him now… no, actually only negative things would come out of it. Also, I didn't dislike the old man… but if we had conflicting interests, I may not have any other choice.
No matter how hard I thought over it, I couldn't arrive at an answer. I couldn't think of a way to overcome this situation while continuing to manage all of my ongoing plans. I could feel myself getting lost in the labyrinth of my thoughts.
Jemma's company and the Lambert House were big business partners. There's a high chance. No, there's almost no question that he had already met Lubreo and the current head of the estate. He has probably exchanged greetings with Galatia as well. I was lucky to have hidden everything in the back of the store before attending the luncheon. But the way things were now, I wouldn't be able to go back to the living the way I was before.
My memories of that night are hazy, but when I came to, I realized I had been sleeping with my face buried in Dalia's breasts. During my childhood, when I would get bullied by the town children, I would sleep with my head nestled on my mom's chest. Right now, as I rested my head against Dalia, I felt wrapped in the same sense of security I did as a child. …. I nodded off to sleep once again. This time a little more peacefully.
I woke up to the smell of fresh bread rising in the oven. The scent of warm soup wafted toward me. I shook my head to rid myself of the grogginess and sat up. I heard a voice at the door. 「Good morning, master. Please eat your breakfast. You won't be able to come up with any good ideas on an empty stomach.」 Dalia had prepared breakfast for me. On a normal day, we would have leftover soup and bread bought from the store. Depending on the day, sometimes there was a salad. But today, Dalia had used the kitchen to prepare warm soup, and some scrambled eggs with cured meats. 「Wow, Dalia, this is a lot of food…」 Although that was what I said, my empty stomach was much more honest. 「Well…I- I'm not very smart, so there's not much I can do to help you like Ms. Astarte or Olivia when you are troubled by something. But, I thought I could do this much, at the very least…」 I heard Dalia's voice waver. Her eyes looked slightly red. …. What was I doing? I thought. Why was I worrying her like this. 「… Oh, no, I mean it looks delicious. Thank you, for trying to cheer me up」 「O- Oh, no problem…」 「We weren't able to eat yesterday, so let's enjoy this hearty meal. We can think about what to do after that」
We made small talk while eating breakfast. Topics ranged from the pressing issue of Jemma's motives to current food trends, what we should get for Lily's baby shower gift, and how we were going to protect the girls at the Spider's Web if anything were to happen. I was doing most of the talking, and Dalia listened intently, occasionally pointing out if I had missed an important detail. We even discussed what we would do in the case that our secret was revealed… if we would escape from the city, or conceal ourselves underground. 「Even if we were to escape, right now the problem is finding a place for Miyabi to stay…. It has to be somewhere close to the water.」 「And I can just hear Nem complaining if we stayed underground… And she is formerly human, so even though she says she can make out things in the dark, I'm sure she would probably prefer to fly during the day…」 「Oh, you know how Nem sings sometimes when she's underground? Apparently, her voice can be heard echoing in a completely different part of town….」 「Which means that there must be another vent that we don't know about in those underground waterways.」
We continued to chat about this and that, and before we knew it, it was time to open the store. There was a knock on the wooden door, and an unfamiliar face walked in… At first glance, he looked like an average townsperson, but something about him suggested that he was used to aggressive situations. 「I apologize for coming so early in the morning. I heard that this was a store that sells magic tools…」 His speech was polite, and he didn't have an accent. He must be from this town… and from the upper class at that. 「Yes, we deal with everyday items, but we do also keep armor and other types of defensive equipment, and even at times magic instruments as well. Is there anything in particular that I can help you with?」 I quickly made myself presentable and went out onto the floor. I wondered what his status was… I couldn't tell from what he was wearing… 「… Actually, I heard that you also carry security equipment.」 「May I ask who you heard this from?」 The man paused to take a breath. 「I apologize that it was hearsay… but from "the circus troupe stagehand".」
My expression didn't reveal anything, but I celebrated inwardly. The "circus troupe stagehand" referred to none other than myself. I had come up with that name myself, and I had asked Diana to spread the word so that it would reach the ears of a certain family… the Lambert's rivals, the Roland family that is. 「I see… yes, we don't put everything on display, but we do handle a variety of magical equipment. If you would like, we could discuss this further in the back room. Dalia, if you could please watch over the store for me.」
「Hmm, an item that allows you to observe things from a distance you say. I won't ask you what you will be using it for… I'm simply a merchant who exchanges items for proper compensation. However, if you would like an explanation on how to use something, or have any technical questions, I am more than willing to provide you with my counsel.」 As I had suspected, the Roland house was engaging in espionage against the Lamberts. The Roland family, who Isabelle was employed under, owned a great deal of farmland and orchards and had a lot of wealth and influence on-land. However, in this water-gate town of Abrams, they were considered a rank beneath the Lambert family.
「Yes, we need to increase security measures for a number of reasons… it seems that among the group of scoundrels who is after my family, there is a user of magic who likes to shamelessly spy on us」 This man was most likely not a servant. A friend of the head of the household, or a member of the lower ranking aristocrats. How careless…. No wonder they couldn't win against the Lambert family who had Galatia. 「I see. So an eye for an eye. Magic for magic… You may already have eyes and ears planted inside of your estate though. If you don't mind my asking, do you have anyone at your manor who specializes in magic…?」 Even Olivia, the lady of her manor, did not have any magicians at her estate, although she did house scholars who studied magic theory. Even the magicians among the explorers were "self-proclaimed magicians" who had a knack for magic but only really knew combat spells. There were few who were as skillful and shrewd as Galatia. Even Sara, although she had dropped out of the Academy, who had a vast amount of knowledge regarding magic, was weak in the more elaborate spells. 「We do have someone who can cast spells, but this kind of magic is…」 「I see… My supplier is actually a magician who specializes in enchantments. If you find it necessary, I can ask them to help you in increasing the security measures around your estate. Although, they are kind of a recluse, so I would most likely end up going in their place…」
Business with the Roland family went well, for the most part. It was honestly a blessing that they had made their move before the Lamberts. I had no idea how effective this would be, but I hoped it would help in stirring things up…
「Master, look」 I turned to see what Dalia was referring to and saw small stones lined up on the windowsill. It was a sign left by a member of the assassin's guild. …. I opened the window and confirmed the position of the stones before dropping them onto the ground. I went out to the back and picked up one of the wooden crates. A scrap of paper had been left underneath. I had asked the people of the assassin's guild to look into Galatia's villa, and it seemed they had already gotten back to me with a report. It was half a day's journey to the villas at the edge of the dam. I had been right to have had them go on horseback… I returned to the store and opened up the paper. It wasn't that I hadn't mentally prepared for the possibility, but the news made me feel faint. I had 3 members of the guild go investigate the villa. Two were sent ahead, and the third went via carriage at a normal speed. Only the last had made it back. The two who had gone first were not the type to have been killed by average men. Not only that but, one had been sent to observe the villa itself, and the other had been ordered to survey the surrounding area at a distance. However, both had been killed. The third member, who had arrived later, confirmed that neither of the first two members had made it to the meeting place, and returned.
From this, I was able to understand one thing. It most definitely was not a lover that she was hiding away at the villa. It must be a demon or someone with similar powers… if I were to take a guess, it was most likely a fugitive like Nubia.
I now understood why the Lambert family was after Nubia. If I was right, there was only one thing the Lamberts were after, using the occupant of that villa. Just as Layla had feared… it was to assassinate the next successor… Olivia.
…. My new master plans out most of the day over his morning meal. During that time, I supply him with information, provide him with possible solutions, and assist him in making decisions. That is my role, and what I look forward to everyday.
The only people with keys to the master bedroom are my master and me. No one else can open the door. As soon as the night guard standing outside of the door noticed my presence, he straightened himself and gave a salute. I gave him a small nod and used my key to open the door. I ignored the guard's eyes, as I caught his stare lingering around my midsection.
It was early morning, as per usual. He was most likely already awake, but if not, it is my role as his servant to wake him. A porcelain bowl with hot water, and a towel to wipe his body. A simple meal to start his morning, and documents regarding the day's business. I placed them all onto a cart and wheeled it into the room.
I entered the first door into the antechamber of the bedroom. It was rare for my master to be sleeping alone. Whether she was supposed to be a servant, or some sort of pet, a woman whose neck he had put a collar around was often with him. It was a way for my master to maintain his health, as well as something of a daily routine for him.
In front of the bedroom door was the woman, she looked pale-faced. She was nothing more than a pet, but perhaps she still hadn't gotten used to master's behavior. 「Good morning Layla. Is our master awake?」 「… Lady Galatia. I thought that girl had just arrived as an apprentice. Why…」 It seemed she was thinking useless things, even though she had no power to stop it. 「Are you dissatisfied with the actions of your master to whom you have pledged your loyalty? 」 「…」 I didn't need to waste my time conversing with a speechless dog. I opened the door and walked in. There was the faint scent of aphrodisiac mixed in with blood.
「Good morning, Master Lubreo. It is time for your breakfast」 「… Oh, thanks」 My master, Lubreo, the next head of the Lambert house, was already awake and was wiping himself down with some sort of cloth. I quickly recognized it as the clothing of the woman who had been called into his room the previous night. 「I have brought a bowl of warm water and a towel. Please use this」 I dampened the towel in the water and handed it to him. He took it naturally, and began wiping himself with it.
He was only slightly taller than average, but he had broad shoulders and a strong chest. His black hair, a characteristic of his lineage, was cropped short which accentuated his chiseled features.
It was normally the maids' job to wash their master's body. However, our master liked to do it himself. On the canopy bed was a young girl who was crying silently. Her face was swollen, and from between her legs dripped a mixture of warm cum and the blood from her deflowered hymen. If I could remember correctly, she was the daughter of some lower-class knight, and had began working here as an apprentice just last month.
「Girl. Clean up your master.」 She jolted at his words and looked over at me in fear. 「What are you doing? Our master has just spoken to you.」 My tone wasn't cold. There was no real need to be cold toward domesticated animals.
The girl slowly slid out of bed, got on her knees in front of our master, and began to clean Master's genitalia using her mouth and tongue. 「Was there something you wanted to say about this girl?」 「No, not particularly」 There was one thing that Master Lubreo especially enjoyed. Fighting. To fight, win, and control. In order to do that, he would investigate, plan, and prepare. No matter how difficult the battle, he won them without hardship. I suspected he neither wanted to deflower this girl nor felt any particular desire towards her. It was most likely in preparation for the future, either as leverage against her parents, or perhaps she had stupidly talked back to him. It was one or the other.
It seemed for our master, sleeping with women was a means for something and not an end. It was not as though he did not enjoy it, but I have never seen him make it a priority. For that reason, he had no mercy toward women, because his objective was not to give or receive pleasure but to break their spirit and control them. That was why there were sometimes casualties, but that was no big deal. The Lambert family had quite a lot of influence, and it was also part of my duties to get rid of the body. And my master would never kill anyone who didn't deserve it. He always kept a certain amount of composure. That was why he was worth serving.
Before he began his meal, I filled him in on a couple new developments since yesterday. After a while, he grabbed the girl's head and came into her mouth. I pushed the girl, who was still coughing, out of the room, and handed my master his clothes as he headed towards the table. Layla who had been waiting outside embraced the girl in her arms. 「…. Master Lubreo, may I help this girl get some rest?」 「Yeah sure, thanks.」 After bowing, she helped up the girl covered in cum and left the room. … how pitiful. After being used so many times by our master, and being nothing more than a dog, she still felt compassion for the girl.
「I know you asked Jemma for a favor… has there been any progress on that front?」 He had finished giving me instructions for the day while eating breakfast and began to discuss more sensitive topics. From my behavior, he had probably already noticed that something had happened. Yes, my master. You are certainly worthy of being my master. You allow me the freedom to do as I please, and have to power to support me. That is why I serve you. 「Yes, about the demon that sneaked in with the expeditionary forces. I looked into the magic shop under suspicion… but we weren't able to find any substantial evidence as of yet.」 「…That was our prime suspect, correct?」 「Yes, his date of entry into Abrams and the circumstances around the approval of his business license are the most suspicious. His name cannot be cleared just yet.」 「The owner of that shop is apparently the savior of Count Abrams' niece. I heard that he was the reason why the expeditionary forces were able to obtain victory at the mining village I told you about.」 「…I see… that makes him all the more suspicious. Although we do have other mercenary and explorer suspects…」 「He's the savior of the woman who is to be my wife. Although this is a sensitive matter… Galatia, on the day, I want you to get rid of all the suspects. There's no need to take him off the list.」 「… I understand.」 I bowed my head deeply. I felt something hot, something similar to sexual pleasure, rise up in my belly. Ah yes… I had been correct in choosing this man to be my master.