“…By the way, you didn’t even eat half of those, you know?”
Charlotte muttered as if she found it incredulous that I barely touched my churros.
“I don’t like sweet things.”
Refined carbs fried in oil and sugar added to it on top? I felt my heart burn just thinking about it.
Why were we eating this?
Of course, I did eat the candy Eleris gave me, but that was it.
At my words, Charlotte opened her mouth slightly as if what I said was ridiculous.
It was as if she was telling me that I was seriously missing out.
“You think it’s weirder for a beggar from the streets to not like sweets, than a Princess that eats anything regardless of quality? Am I really that weird?”
A princess who would eat anything, no matter what it is.
And a beggar who stopped eating after a single bite simply because he didn’t like sweets.
Both of us were pretty rare sights.
To be honest, the Princess had a reason for her behavior. It was a bit harder to explain why I was like this, though.
“Well, I’m different from you, Princess. I always had to eat cheap stuff, but now that I get to eat the highest quality food, I realized what it really means to eat. That’s how it is.”
“……I apologize for asking, but are you truly satisfied?”
“Of course. How could I not be? I get to study in the world’s best education institution and eat the highest quality food.”
“…I have no words.”
Charlotte was completely speechless, looking at me as if I was a weirdo.
“What do you like to eat then?”
“Something like hot meat stew.”
Charlotte’s expression grew more and more bewildered when I told her what I liked.
“……What’s with this? When I talk to you, I sometimes feel like I’m sitting in front of some stubborn minister. The way you talk, your tastes….”
Did she mean I act like a geezer?
Well, to be fair, looking at my mental age and the Princess’, it might feel that way.
“Why thank you. I take it as appearing mature then.”
“Maturity isn’t always a good thing, though.”
I clearly understood that what she meant wasn’t that I was actually mature. She was being sarcastic. After that, I forcibly stuffed the rest of the churros into my mouth.
“…What? Didn’t you say you didn’t like sweets? Why are you eating it all of a sudden now?”
After forcing down that terribly sweet thing, I mumbled something.
“Throwing away the gift the Princess gave me, would be a waste though, right?”
I didn’t know what Charlotte would think of me if I threw away the thing she gifted me. Well, there was nothing good about wasting food anyway.
Of course, it wasn’t that important to me that a Princess bought it for me, but that Charlotte bought it for me.
“…It’s truly ridiculous that you care about these types of things.”
It seemed like Charlotte was on the verge of giving up trying to understand me. It looked like she doubted whether I was conscious of my actions or not.
Our brief break was over.
We sat on a bench and kept on watching people passing by.
“It seems like there are some things you have to experience yourself to come to a proper conclusion.”
“Uhm, Well…. Seems to be the case today.”
Charlotte sighed heavily.
Apparently, Charlotte had someone search through the Aligar District’s shopping street. However, he failed to uncover the truth behind the scroll robbery.
“I knew my people were only capable of doing what I told them to do, so this could be called a harvest in its own way.”
They only do what they are told to do.
I didn’t think she meant that in a good way, but in the end, just by getting to know that her people lacked a certain something, Charlotte seemed to judge this as a big harvest.
It wasn’t anything difficult to find out, but they took that testimony at face value and only reported its contents to Charlotte. They never even questioned the credibility of this information.
Of course, we were only able to come to this conclusion because I knew the truth, and Charlotte thought fiercely about this incident because she was just that desperate.
If I didn’t actually know the truth, I might have dismissed this as well.
“If I asked someone to dig a well, they should know that my intention was to look for water….”
Charlotte seemed disappointed by her subordinates, but she remained firm.
She asked them to investigate Valier’s actions on Aligar District’s shopping street.
This instruction contained the intention of finding Valier, and here they were just returning with some testimonies. So, they even brought information that lacked credibility to her.
“I was able to find out a lot more just by checking myself.”
“What else is there?”
Charlotte stared at me. No, her gaze seemed to ask if I didn’t even know that much, either.
“In the report I received, the testimonies of the owners and their store names were written down. All testimonies were arranged in a neat document…”
“However, by coming here myself, I’m able to see everything. The location of the stores, for example…. Like this, it would only be natural for me to find something.”
Charlotte pointed to the other side of the shopping street.
That was where we came from.
Those words sent a chill down my spine.
“He came in from over there and went into every scroll shop he saw at least once. He wouldn’t have been able to enter the stores we were kicked out of today, either. Only the ones that gave testimonies.”
Then Charlotte pointed towards the other end of the shopping street.
“And, after that Fireball scroll shop, there were no further eyewitness reports. We don’t have to visit these places in person. His movement suddenly ended there.”
She found out these things right away.
I knew Charlotte was smart. A lot smarter than I could ever be.
The location of the stores weren’t written down in their report.
However, if one were to visit this place themselves, one would find out rather quickly.
If one were to connect the store’s positions, one could read his movements quite clearly.
“If he stole that Fireball scroll, it would make sense that he stopped. He might have run away with it to not get caught after all.”
“Yeah… I guess.”
“But we just found out that this scroll wasn’t actually something he stole. So, he wouldn’t have had any reason to run away like that.”
If he had stolen it, he would have tried to sell the scroll elsewhere outside the shopping street. Then, it would make complete sense that the trace cut off there.
However, the truth was that he hadn’t stolen the scroll. The shop owner actually gave it to him. So, there was no reason for him to run away, making his disappearance not as plausible.
“If he wasn’t able to sell the demonic scrolls, then he would probably have tried to sell that Fireball scroll he got from that shop owner. Either way, he was pressed for money. This leaves us two possibilities. The Fireball scroll store owner lied again…. There’s the possibility that he hurt the kid himself and is now pretending not to know anything more than he said, but it’s probably not possible for that idiot to come up with something like that taking his lacking brain into consideration….”
I felt like my whole body was getting colder and colder.
“Or he went over there. The next store.”
Charlotte pointed somewhere.
“There’s a very high possibility that his movement ended at the Fireball store or that place.”
It was Eleris’ Scroll shop.
Charlotte was able to reach the truth only with her extremely limited amount of information.
I couldn’t let Charlotte enter Eleris’ shop.
“Erm…. It might not necessarily be that place, right?”
“That’s possible. Maybe they actually kicked him out, but didn’t remember it.”
She didn’t seem to be that suspicious of Eleris at the moment.
“But the fact that we didn’t have any eyewitness accounts from this part of the street means that there were some people among the shop owners that lied. It’s very likely that one of them did something to the boy.”
Damn it, I didn’t have any good justification. Charlotte was having reasonable doubts, so it was impossible for me to keep her away.
Even if it was somehow possible, Charlotte wouldn’t want to leave a single stone unturned. Even if there was only a small chance that she might find traces of Valier, she would try to investigate no matter what.
“He didn’t necessarily have to visit another scroll store…. Isn’t there a possibility that he left because of another reason?”
“Hmm…. You’re right. As soon as you walk around openly carrying a scroll book, you’re already a prime target for pickpockets or other criminals.”
Charlotte nodded at my suggestion to not focus too much on the scroll stores. There was still the possibility that he might have gotten pickpocketed or targeted by some criminals after walking around the shopping street with his scroll book for quite a while.
“It’s not too late to consider this possibility after we’ve secured the testimonies of the next few scroll shops.”
The more information, the better.
So, she was willing to keep that possibility in the back of her mind. She planned on checking that option after visiting these scroll shops and finding out if someone among the store owners lied.
In the end, there was absolutely no reason for Charlotte to not go into Eleris’ store.
And more importantly.
At the moment, Eleris went to the Edina islands to take care of Airi and the others. It was obvious that she hadn’t come back yet.
It was unclear to me whether Eleris’ absence was a good or bad thing, however, this situation was just too unpredictable.
I’m pretty sure Charlotte wouldn’t find out my identity by doing this, but if she were to suspect Eleris in any way, there was a high chance that her identity as a vampire could be brought to light.
I couldn’t let that happen.
So, I tried using the Revise function.
Charlotte thinks it’s not worth examining Eleris’ shop.
[10.000 achievement points are needed to perform this Revision.]
Charlotte’s determination to find just a single clue was so strong that it was almost impossible for her to even consider not investigating every nook and cranny of this place. So, the probability of her ignoring this place was abysmally low.
“Hmm…. It’s locked.”
Charlotte tilted her head after she found out that the door to Eleris’ store was locked. Eleris hadn’t returned yet.
“……It could be their day off today.”
“Then why don’t we take a look at other places? They have to return to this place some day, right?”
I talked as calmly as possible, pretending nothing was wrong. However, Charlotte was still fixated on this locked door.
It seemed like she was starting to get some doubts, realizing a certain possibility. I could clearly see subtle joy radiating from her face.
Her expression seemed to express that she was finally able to come across a clue she never thought she would ever find.
It was surprising.
Charlotte was able to find out at what place my traces really ceased, with only these insignificant eyewitness testimonies.
Charlotte went straight to the next store, which was a weaponry store, not a scroll store. I thought we would go to the next scroll shop. There was no way this person would have any information.
“…… What business do you little kids have here?”
“Does the scroll store next door have a day off today?”
The middle-aged owner with a shaggy beard shook his head and smiled.
Charlotte asked him about the owner next door, not Valier.
“No? Miss Elena seemed to have gone quite far away. She doesn’t open her shop these days.”
I now knew that Eleris’ pseudonym was Elena.
It had been a while since Eleris closed up shop. Of course, it was like that, because she was in a situation in which she couldn’t be here after all. This was unexpectedly getting worse and worse.
“Since when has the shop been closed?”
“Hmm…. Since last Monday. So right when the Festival started. She might have gone somewhere far away to relax. That’s what young people do.”
Hearing that, Charlotte had a slightly sullen expression on her face. The owner’s reasoning that she might have left for somewhere further away in time of the Festival was quite plausible.
The Festival was now over, but she may have just extended her vacation.
“Is that owner young?”
“She’s young and very beautiful. There are a lot of guys gathering around her… No. What am I saying?”
He shook his head, wondering why he even said this. The thing he talked about was obviously something Eleris was greatly troubled by.
“Why are you looking for Elena? If it’s a scroll shop, even if I feel sorry for sending Miss Elena’s potential customers away, there are quite a few of those around here.”
He was talking quite gently, because he thought we were her guests. Obviously, he seemed a lot kinder than the other shopkeepers around here.
“I have my reasons. Do you know when that person named Elena will come back?”
“Hmm…. Not really. I don’t even know where she went. I mean, she just left without a word.”
“Do you know anyone who knows?”
I want them to stop, but I wasn’t able to just put a hold to this conversation.
“Well…. Miss Elena doesn’t even attend the merchants’ meetings, and although she does get along with everyone, she isn’t particularly close with anyone or anything like that. She doesn’t even go out with others to eat lunch together. However, people say she has a very kind heart. That’s why it’s said that she doesn’t have the right constitution to be a merchant or do business….”
She got along well with everyone, but never got really close to anyone. Although she makes a living as a merchant, she wasn’t like the other Aligar merchants, who could only survive by scamming others.
Slight doubts turned into suspicion, and that suspicion would soon turn into complete certainty.
She hadn’t yet grasped all the details, but it seemed like she got a feeling that this person was very strange.
As if she had made up her mind, Charlotte started to laugh.
Charlotte, leaving the wide-eyed owner behind, dragged me outside and went back to Eleris’ store.
“We have to force our way in.”
As her suspicions grew closer to certainties, it seemed that Charlotte was ready to make use of any method possible.
From inside her robe, blue light emanated from the earring Charlotte was wearing.
There was a reason after all why she was able to go around all alone.
Charlotte wore some kind of artifact, similar to my Flame of Tuesday. I was pretty sure that this wasn’t the only one either.
With just a short phrase, an explosion rang out from Eleris’ shop’s door. An invisible shock wave smashed through it.
-What’s going on!
“You! What are you guys doing!”
The street was drowning in a huge commotion caused by this sudden explosion.
“Let’s go in.”
Charlotte, however, didn’t seem to care about anything else going on around her, and walked through the smashed door without hesitation.