The Outsider of the Basement
We entered a break for lunch, had a light meal, and replenished our fluids.
Right around now, if Monica were here, it would be possible to prepare something extravagant, but for now, hard bread and water had to suffice. By the maid’s words, we also ate a bit of salty preserved meats to replenish our salt levels.
While I sat on a nearby rock, May was wholeheartedly biting into a chunk of the hard, dried-out meat.
It was a non-perishable that didn’t taste too good, May didn’t seem to mind.
The ones we were to guard were resting in the shade of the trees. Eva and Clara were keeping watch, so Aria was also on break.
When I turned my eyes to the Holy Maiden candidate… Aura-san, I saw that Gastone-san was trying to persuade her.
“Aura-sama, we cannot run away forever. You need to be placed under protection somewhere.”
Aura-san took a sip of water.
“And that somewhere has to be Lorphys? Then no. Even I know full well just how much they hate us.”
Thelma-san also looked troubled, but she couldn’t bring herself to pressure the girl too much. After all, it was her own efforts that had gotten Aura-san involved in all this.
(So the Holy Maiden candidate is that reluctant.)
And noticing my stare, Aura-san stuck out her tongue at me.
“Ahahaha, she sure hates you, Lyle. But why do you need another Holy Maiden anyways? If she doesn’t have the motivations, just have the other one do it.”
May’s opinion wasn’t wrong, but there was a reason Thelma-san was no good.
While doing her best, Thelma-san had lost in popularity to the current reigning Holy Maiden. That gap wasn’t a big one, but it’s still true she lost.
She then prepared a rival candidate in Aura-san, but the individual’s lack of motivation was what put more people on the current Holy Maiden’s side.
“Thelma-san’s that. She’s gotten too old for a Holy Maiden. See, they’re usually supposed to serve around ten years at most, but she did her job for more than twenty. She worked hard. It’s about time she got some rest.”
There, May looked at Thelma-san.
“From my point of view, they aren’t too different. They can both produce children, so isn’t it fine? Come to think of it, why did you seduce her?”
When May turned to me, I took a bite of the dried meat in my hands.
“… I didn’t seduce here. That was a misunderstanding.”
There, the Fifth let his voice from the Jewel. When May was around, he spoke up quite often.
『That was an unpleasant happening. We’ve had that man swear never to do it again, so fret not.』
Perhaps curious about my conversation, Clara and the others were peering my way from Porter’s shadow. And Thelma-san suddenly sensed something, and began to panic.
She didn’t hear the contents of the conversation, but such words went right through Eva and May.
Eva spoke aloud of how she was happy she could write a song with this, and May complained that I should’ve just seduced her already.
“It sure is a pain. So, why does that make the younger one any better?”
I returned my eyes to Aura-san.
“The Holy Maiden is a sort of idol of worship, it seems. The last goddess… they revere the seventh goddess, but still, the country needed a representative. If they are to be a decoration, then a young and pretty girl would be best, or so I’ve heard.”
The Holy Maiden’s role was… a decoration.
But at some point, they had begun to gain authority, and so other countries interfered, and other countries were used, putting Zayin in the position it was in now.
The Fifth spoke.
『Aura would be the better one to put at the head. Even when negotiating with Lorphys, having a new representative would put you on a bit better terms. There’s a possibility they won’t be as wary. That doesn’t seem to be how it’ll go with Thelma.』
At present, our intentions were to join Lorphys’ side, and take Zayin down. For that sake, we needed an individual to take up the role of, ‘the legitimate successor of Zayin’.
(Once we return, we’ll have to gather information again. Based on how it goes, it might not have to be Lorphys.)
If it was best to get a third party to intervene, that’s what we’d choose. If nowhere looked like it’d work… we’d have to be a bit unreasonable.
The ancestors stated they wouldn’t really recommend that one, so we weren’t moving towards putting it to practice.
But to put it simply, we would have to proclaim independence for a portion of Zayin with a large density of Aura-san’s faction’s supporters. On top of chipping away at their national power, we would be able to make a union with Lorphys in opposition of Zayin.
But with my goal in mind, it wasn’t something to be too happy about.
I stood, and spoke to May as she finished her meal.
“We’re departing. We’ll arrive in Beim by tomorrow.”
I said, as I thought.
(I have to think up a way to win Aura-san over. Should I rely on the Third?)
It was a large building.
It seems it was once used by a wealthy merchant, but the adventurers deemed him too hard to work with, so it became hard for him to trade or give loans in the city.
Next to the mansion was a large storehouse, and it was easily able to fit Porter. With enough space for even a number of Porter units, Monica looked satisfied.
“There shouldn’t be a problem if I make some noise here. There’s some distance to the surroundings.”
A splendid manor, with a vast yard, and large storehouse.
There was a certain reason they were able to get such a fine article. It was considerably inconvenient.
It was separated from Beim’s central district, and on top of that, there was a rumor that late wealthy merchant was still loitering around somewhere in it.
In truth, it did feel there was something there, so Miranda and Shannon had gone to the basement to deal with it.
Novem had started cleaning, and with all its blemishes, she saw how Monica and the others were able to purchase it so cheaply.
“It would be too much a pity to tear it down… I see… so many accidents occurred that no one wanted to buy it.”
Monica didn’t believe in ghosts, or the occult. But now was different.
“Hmph, since I’ve found myself in a fantasy world with magic, something like a ghost isn’t going to scare me at this point. But putting an end to it all before the Chicken Dickwad returns is I, Monica’s role… We really must exorcise these spirits.”
Monica took out some goods that looked like they would have a considerable effect, but looking at the water that had been sold as holy water…
“It’s just filthy water. The rest are all nothing but decorations. I tried gathering together some cheap things for effect, but it doesn’t look like it’ll do anything.”
But keeping them on her, Monica walked around the storehouse, and conducted a scan.
“… There seems to be some sort of hidden passageway. Even the storehouse has a basement to it, so there must be something beneath this mansion. I shall have to divulge its secrets.”
Shaking her twin tails, Monica seemed to be having fun as she walked forward. After finding the concealed entrance to go to a lower level, she wrenched it open with brute force, and descended the stairs.
Entering the dark basement, Monica happily hummed a tune…
… Shannon was clinging onto her sister Miranda.
She held a lantern in one hand to light up the surroundings.
“F-FWAHAHAHA! I can see the invisible flow of magic! I can s-see right through all the traps t-that old merchant set!”
Miranda found it quite hard to walk, as she chucked the knife in her hands at the wall of the passage.
It hit into a switch, causing rusted spears to jut out from the walls. Their movements were dull, and a few of them were even snapped.
“It’s been left alone so long that it’s come to this. Now then, what could be in its depths?”
Shannon shook, but she spoke with bravado.
“I-I’m sure it’s the rich guy’s treasure! He was w-wealthy, so he must have quite a fortune!”
Even hearing that, Miranda didn’t seem all too interested.
All she wanted was to have the mansion in a usable state. And putting up strange expectations wouldn’t mean something would come out of it.
(You often hear about the rich ones and upstarts using their money to buy strange things. It’d be quite a laugh if he put all these traps to shelter what turn out to be a forgery.)
Hearing a sound from afar, Shannon held on tighter.
“Shannon, it’s getting hard to walk. And you haven’t been of any use this whole time.”
“But it’s scary! The presence of something that isn’t human is moving around! And we’re being watch, or how should I put it, this is definitely bad! That’s why I said it! That even if it was cheap, not to buy it!”
Shannon looked like she was going to burst into tears, so Miranda sighed, and firmly held onto her hand.
Walking on, she found yet another trap.
She threw her knife to get it moving, and after a strange noise sounded, she confirmed that it was broken.
“Leave them for a few decades, and they stop moving, I see.”
She was interested in what sort of traps had been set, but after so many years, she determined there were few that would still function properly.
Not voicing any more problems about Shannon’s embrace, she started forward again.
“We really must confirm what’s in the basement. It’ll serve to kill some time before Lyle and the others get back.”
As Miranda walked on, Shannon looked around her surroundings warily as she clung on so tight there was no chance of the sisters being separated…
… Inside the mansion.
Novem was busy cleaning the master’s study.
It was blatantly obvious that it would become Lyle’s room, so she was cleaning it quite carefully.
She opened the window and took a cleaning implement in hand, only for it to slam down with a bang despite the lack of wind.
Hearing the loud sound behind her, Novem showed not a hint of surprise as she proceeded to try opening the window again. This time, even though it wasn’t locked, it wouldn’t opened.
It felt as if it were being held down by something.
“I want to finish cleaning the main rooms by the end of the day… could you go play somewhere else?”
She turned from the window, and looked in the center of the room to find a plump man with violet skin.
He had a number of cocktail rings around his fingers, and a golden chain around his neck.
Before the mansion’s master that was no longer of this world, Novem put down her cleaning supplies, and gave her greetings.
“Pleasure to meet you. My name is Novem… Novem Forxuz, if you will. I am the lover of Lyle-sama, who has purchased this mansion… no, that’s wrong. The engagement has already been annulled. Vassal isn’t quite right either. Now what shall I call our relationship? Yes, let us just leave it at Lyle-sama’s loyal servant.”
When she directed a smile, the black-robed man slowly began to rise into the air. A large scythe was held in his hands.
Seeing the figure before her, Novem could understand just sort of existence he was.
She narrowed her eyes.
“I thought all Outsiders had been eliminated, but it seems you collected up all the teachings you could find. Eternal youth isn’t that good a thing to have, you know…”
Novem swiped her right hand, and gripped it around the Forxuz House’s heirloom staff.
In search of eternity, magic stones and materials were gathered. And long ago, research was carried out to fuse man with monster itself.
None of that should have been known to the public. All the records should have been erased, but it seems the man who once lived in this mansion had grasped onto the clues, and experimented on his own body.
Having been left in a state where he couldn’t research any longer, the former master lowered his scythe at Novem.
But Novem caught it with her left hand. She gripped the blade, and no matter how much power he put in, she wouldn’t move an inch.
“I cannot simply ignore one who has dabbled in Outside Teachings. At the very least, a painless…”
Novem let the staff in her right hand take the shape of her own scythe. That scythe that gave off a silver sheen traced a single line across her opponent’s abdomen.
The violet man opened his blackened mouth, and raised a scream. His body began to burn in a pale blue flame, leaving nothing but ash on the ground.
Watching the ash smoothly disappear into the floor, Novem reverted her scythe.
“So a little of him still remains.”
Saying that, she collected up her cleaning supplies, and decided to probe through the mansion again…
… Miranda found Monica at the end of the basement passage.
“What are you doing?”
Seeing Monica in the pitch-black room with a book in her hands, Shannon was unable to raise a scream. She fruitlessly opened her mouth, and collapsed.
Miranda snatched the lantern from her hands, and looked around the room.
Monica was looking through the various books and documents.
“This is truly interesting research here. It seems there was a series of experiments carried out. You’ll find some jail cells further in, and there are traces that monsters were once kept there. Well, we can’t really make this one public, so we will have to dispose of it.”
Hearing that, Miranda understood that the wealthy man who once made a home here was carrying out some strange research. She narrowed her eyes, and held the lantern to the bookshelves on the wall.
Quite a few titles she was unfamiliar with were lined up, and there were even books in words she couldn’t read. Beside them were the required dictionaries to read them.
There were a number of desks in the room, so there must have been a number of people working and researching here.
Placing the lantern on the desk, Miranda looked at the entrance to the room. Some footsteps could be heard coming from it, but neither she nor Monica felt like panicking.
Because they knew whose footsteps those were.
The one to enter the room was Novem.
“It looks like you’ve beat me to it. It does appear the master here had some unsavory hobbies of his own. We will dispose of all the books and documents here.”
Her tone was stronger than usual, and her eyes that wouldn’t permit dissent caused Miranda to shrug, and go over to Shannon.
Monica put the book down, and looked around.
“We can use this room. Could you leave the cleaning to me?”
“Please do whatever you like. However, everything that has been left in this room will be disposed of. The furniture as well.”
Miranda spoke in sarcasm.
“Even when they’ve got some high class desks lined up?”
Without giving a response, Novem silently stared at Miranda. Miranda stroked her hair, let out a sigh, and nodded.
“Yes, yes, do what you will. Well, using what’s been left in this room is a bit… we should just wipe it all out while we’re at it.”
“I don’t think there’s a problem with the mansion itself. But please keep this matter a secret from Clara-san. Her attachment to books is a strong one.”
Monica nodded. Miranda also agreed.
Shannon was… out cold, so no one tried asking for her opinion…
(TL: The term used here translated to outsider is one that refers to teachings outside one’s religion.)