Translator: Kurehashi Aiko
Volume 3 Chapter 8: Dragon-san and the Artificial Magic Stone
We arrived at Melias in the afternoon, and we picked up Nectar right before the city gate.
「It’s been so long, Lava! I missed you!」
「No, wait, I’m happy to see you, too, but stop embarrassing me! People are watching!」
Having been separated from me for so long, Nectar jumps onto the carriage and hugs me tightly.
Uuuh, I can feel both Ligurila and Kyle giving me those nasty looks from behind my back……
「Melias was always a famous vacation resort, but I see that nothing has changed over the years.」
Said Kyle who took over the reins, and Ligurila answered while looking around the streets.
「But it’s strange. Some of those people doesn’t look like the type who came here for vacation.」
Certainly, she was correct. Alongside the well-dressed noble-like men and women, the streets were full of Hunter-like looking people, carrying around swords and staffs.
「It seems that a new dungeon was recently discovered near the city.」
Nectar was the one to answer that question.
「Though it was discovered a few years ago. It looks like this new dungeon is the most popular in the entire region, rich in both resources and treasures alike. That is why there is even a branch of Hunters Guild here.」
Dungeons are the ruins left behind by the ancient civilizations, whose defense mechanisms are active even today, and entering one of those can prove to be life threatening, just like encountering a monster.
The reason why people would risk venturing into their depths is that the deeper you go, the more valuable magic texts and artifacts you could find, promising you really good fortune.
So far, no one was able to answer the question on how or why the dungeons exist in the first place. But, as soon as the new dungeons are being discovered, the Hunters Guild would usually be the first one to arrive on site, setting up a new branch in the nearby city and getting special permissions for its members to go in and explore it. Dungeon exploration became so popular that a special class of Hunters called “Adventurers” emerged on the market.
That’s what I know on the subject.
「Don’t tell me, it’s going to be hard to find a lodging for us?」
「That would certainly be a problem.」
Muttered Ligurila, her voice ridden with anxiety.
「Normally, accommodation for tourists and Hunters are two completely different things. That being said, one of my customers has a villa in this town, and so maybe we should try to ask her to stay there.」
「Umm, thanks for the offer, but…… Would it really be okay to bring in so many people?」
「That will hardly be a problem, since the woman in question is a huge Noct mania fan……」
「Excuse me, Noct what?」
「No, noting. It’s nothing. I wrote a letter to her in advance, so once we arrive at the villa she should come out and greet us.」
Somehow I was worried about this whole freeloading business, but for now, having no real alternatives, we set our course towards the villa in question.
「Welcome, Madame Lily! It is such a pleasure having you here!」
「The pleasure is all mine, and thank you for agreeing to let us stay, even though it was on such a short notice. Madame Chinon.」
「When Madame Lily, one of the most famous designers in the whole Ballow, asks for a favour, you simply can’t refuse! Besides, it the first time in quite a while when my villa gets so lively! Please, you and your companions, make yourself at home.」
Madame Chinon, one of the regulars at Ligurila’s shop, bowed gracefully, being happy to be of some use to her favorite designer.
She looked young – really young – and wore a yellow dress over her smooth and pretty body.
As soon as we got to the hotel, we were invited to have tea with Madame Chinon.
Madame Chinon’s “villa” was nothing like the buildings you would associate with the word back on Earth, but it was still rather huge and elegant.
Since it was so huge, it wouldn’t be much of a problem to accommodate all of us here.
And it was just like I thought: in the presence of a true noblewoman, Ligurila was acting and speaking like a prim and proper lady she was posing to be.
And once they began to talk about things like the latest trends in fashion or ways to apply makeup, the male part of our group quickly evacuated themselves somewhere else, under the excuse of wanting to scout the Guild house ahead of time.
For me it was all quite entertaining, and so I decided to stay here and enjoy the small talk whilst enjoying the delicious tea. But after some time Madame Chinon leaned towards Ligurila and began to whisper something into her ear.
「Umm, Lily-san, about that latest specimen.」
「I shall present it to you later.」
Next, I leaned over to Ligurila and whispered into her ear whilst wearing a scornful expression.
「What was that all about?」
「A little bit of this and a little bit of that.」
Answers Ligurila while smiling ambiguously. Hmm?
After that, Madame Chinon swiftly changed the subject.
「By the way, Lily-san. I presume that you’ve heard of the latest rumor?」
Of course, Ligurila’s eyes blinked quickly at the mention of the word “rumor”.
「What kind of rumor?」
「Ara, and here I thought the purpose of your visit was that you wanted to see the artificial magic stones with your own eyes.」
「Artificial magic stones?」
When I ask her about that, Madame Chinon’s eyes brighten as she leans over to me.
「It is a story that is still known only to some of the upper class of this country. It says that apparently, a certain magician was able to create and successfully mass produce the magic stones! And they are as good as the normal ones! What’s even more interesting, is that up until now everyone was sure that such a task is nothing short but impossible!」
「You say all that, but did you see that artificial stone with your own eyes?」
「Of course. However, the stones are going to be officially presented during one of the garden parties here in Melias. But only the ones who received an invitation are permitted to attend. It seems that the merchant who deals with them is also going to attend, so lots of questions are bound to be asked. Ahh, what a wonderful thing, a magical stone like that!」
I was trying my best to maintain a poker face in front of Madame Chinon and not show just how surprised I actually was.
We were going to investigate the reason of the magic stones prices drop in this area and the probable causes of that, but suddenly to discover such a big clue. But still……
“Hmm, the more I hear about it, the more this smells like a fraud. Still, it is a lead at the very least.”
Hearing about the artificial magic stone from Madame Chinon, Ligurila instantly sends me a telepathic message.
“That woman is one of the most renowned gem collectors in the whole Ballow. It is not easy to be accepted as one, but since her family owns a lot of money and land, they were able to buy the title for themselves.”
Oh well, let’s just leave it at that and pretend that there’s no issue.
“Nevertheless, that artificial magic stone is a matter of concern. If it is circulating on the market, it only goes to prove Kyle’s suspicions. A tremendous amount of magical power are needed to create a single magic stone, not to mention mass producing them.”
“Well, we still don’t know whether or not it is related to the increased activity of monsters in the area, so for now we can deem that as irrelevant. But still, if this magic stone is indeed as flawless as the real one, I wonder just how many nobles, magicians and merchants are going to fight for it?”
It’s just as Liguria says, there are those who might treat the magic stone like yet another piece of their precious stones collection.
Magic stone is nothing more but a raw magical power that solidify over time.
In the past, the magic stone was excavated from mountains and found laying on the beach, basically to be found anywhere where the concentration of magic power was dense enough. But since its amounts as a natural resource were rather scarce, the best way to obtain it was through killing monsters.
And this fact is an irony, since monsters were nothing more but huge clusters of raw magical power.
Its color was dependable on the amount and quality of magic used to create it, but each and every one of them is characterized by its center, looking as if a small spark of light was trapped inside of it.
However, being obtained either by means of mining or monster hunting, their surfaces were often chipped or scratched, making it difficult for them to be used as jewelry.
Moreover, magicians were using the stones as a power source, so when a large quantity of magic stones was going to hit the market, the war over the stones between nobles and magicians would only be a matter of time.
…… People’s desires can truly be a terrifying thing.
While we were exchanging messages like that, Madame Chinon was speaking all the time, but suddenly clasped her hands together, as if remembering something.
「That’s right! A few days ago I received an invitation to that garden party! It is going to be held at the capital city, but if you don’t mind, Madame Lily, would you like to go to that party together with me?」
「It would be my pleasure to accompany you, Madame Chinon, but are you sure? Wouldn’t I only be a bother to you?」
Ligurila was cautious about this sudden proposition, but isn’t that a chance that we could use?
But before Ligurila could say or do anything more, Madame Chinon smiled confidently and said:
「It’s quite alright, I assure you. Count Avar likes to boast about basically anything, and so he throws those garden parties all the time. And it would be such a waste to let it pass you by, Madame Lily, one of the best designers in Ballow. Also, please bring some of your friends as well.」
Realizing that the prey swallowed the bait, Ligurila had a smile full of satisfaction on her lips.
「I’m glad to hear that. If that’s the case, will you allow me to accompany you together with my friends?」
「Of course I do not mind at all! I welcome you all with open arms!」
「Thank you very much, Madame Chinon.」
「Ufufu. Well then, Lily-san? Will you please advise me as to what dress should I wear to the party?」
「It would be my pleasure.」
By the way, it looks like it has been decided that I am going to attend to the party as well. I cocked my head thinking about how this turn of events develop so quickly.