Translator: Kurehashi Aiko
Volume 3 Chapter 11: Dragon-san and Demon-sama’s Bad Habits
The next morning, after I returned from the garden party, I sent a message to Nectar.
I really wanted to do that right away, but with the invitation from Madame Chinon to the party and local leylines poor performance, it had to wait until now to be done.
Together with Ligurila we reported to Nectar what we managed to uncover in regards to the Artificial Magic Stone, and I could hear Nectar gasping on the other side of the connection.
“Is that really true?”
「Without a doubt. I was skeptical at first as well, but once Lava showed me what she pulled out of the stone, I can tell you this much –– this is indeed a monster nucleus.」
「They are weak and can’t possibly cause any harm in that state, but there’s no room for discussion here: the cores of the Artificial Magic Stones are made out of a monster nucleus.」
I could sense that Nectar fell into a deep thought on the other side.
“But, even if you say that, there is no magic in this world that lets you rob the monsters of their cores. And even if it somehow existed, there would be no possible way of utilizing such core in any way.”
“In that case, is this perhaps the ancient magic?”
I couldn’t help but try to deny Kyle’s theory.
「Honestly speaking, I can’t say for sure. My knowledge about the ancient magic runs as far as Gramps managed to teach me, and it didn’t involve the procedure to create Artificial Magic Stones.」
「It was the first time I saw something like that as well.」
Ligurila added from the side, backing me up.
「However, of that I am sure: currently, there exists no technology that would allow the refinement of the monster nuclei.」
Just then, I could hear Senjiro’s voice on the other side of the connection.
“I’m terribly sorry if this is rude of me, but as a foreigner I must ask. Are the Artificial Magic Stone we are talking about is something different than the thing that usually drops out of the monsters here?”
「There’s a huge difference.」
Ligurila was the one to answer that.
「We demons may fight and compete with one another but that doesn’t change our role: we hunt down monsters that spread contaminated magic and eliminate them. And when they die, their cores crystalize into the form of a stone, making it unable for them to regenerate and return to their original form.」
“So, in other words, a monster that turns into a magic stone is already gone for good.”
Senjiro’s voice sounded a little bit stiff when he was saying that.
It is true that I couldn’t sense any trace of consciousness from the monster nucleus contained within the stone. That is why we weren’t able to sense anything until we got really, really close to it.
Then I could hear Kyle’s voice right next to Senjiro.
“Yesterday, I tried to gather some intel on the stones in the Hunters Guild. It looks like a certain number of stones is being distributed among the magicians over here. And you can be sure that more will be entering the market.”
「…… Maybe so, however. As far as I’m concerned, we may be able to retrieve them in time if there’s only a relatively small amount being distributed at the moment.」
「But that would still leave the stones that are in the possession of the middle class and the nobles, right?」
Ligurila’s words were true. I place my finger on my chin, thinking about it for a minute.
What does that mean from the perspective of the demons?
“Lava, what are you going to do?”
Nectar asked me a question and I answered without hesitation.
「We bring this whole operation down. We absolutely cannot allow it to go on like this.」
“But, from what you heard at the party, it seems that the Artificial Magic Stones have become a vital point of Hesat’s economic growth. It won’t be easy to stop it. And should you make a mistake, it may lead to a political scandal with Ballow and other countries.”
Kyle’s words were a cause for concern on my part, but in contrast, Ligurila just laughed at that suggestion.
「Ara, but we are not human beings to begin with. We are dragons, spirits and demons. If there is a problem that we deem unforgivable, we burn it to the ground and leave the political squabbles to puny humans, consequences be damned.」
While Kyle was silent, I used that opportunity to speak up my mind.
「Demons are one of the providences the world created. Even if we dragons may not like it, there’s nothing we can really do about it. If we could at least find a living sample and bring it here, that would be great.」
「Ara, the incompetence of the monsters is a given, but I would really hate it if humans started to exploit them for their own personal gains.」
I nod to Ligurila’s words and continue with a slight tension in my voice.
「But, even if you were collecting monster nuclei, the amount of magic collected from the atmosphere wouldn’t be enough to create a magic stone. You would have to draw magic directly from leylines, and you would need a large facility for that.」
“Lava, do you perhaps think that something suspicious may be going on inside of the dungeon?”
Nectar immediately caught on what I was thinking and I nod my head.
「Yeah. I heard that the Artificial Magic Stones were being distributed to Hesat’s nobles, and it strangely coincide in time to the moment in which the dungeon was discovered. Besides, it seems that Count Avar, one of the patrons of Artificial Magic Stones, has some land near Melias as well.」
Ligurila heard all of that from the nobles at the party, so I doubt that they would lie to her about that. Why would they?
I could hear Kyle sigh on the other side.
“I spent a whole day scouting that area yesterday, but I didn’t find anything suspicious. I wonder if it holds some kind of a secret?”
“You think so?”
Senjiro was the one to answer that.
“We weren’t able to confirm if the monsters truly emerge from the dungeon, but we did manage to find out that after it was discovered, there was an increase in monster activity in the region.”
“The flow of magic is also strange inside of the dungeon. So maybe there really is some secret being hidden there. We must examine it further.”
Hearing Kyle’s supportive words made me feel a little bit relieved. I wonder why was he so pessimistic before. While I was thinking that, I could feel that Nectar smiled brightly.
“Since Kyle used to be a human, he was probably thinking that he should be the one to resolve this matter, since humans were the ones that started it.”
「No, I don’t think that’s necessary, but, umm, Kyle? Did you already forget that you are now a demon?」
“I know, I know, you don’t have to remind me……”
「Ara, is that so?」
I think if I were in Kyle’s shoes, I would love to find myself a nice little hole and crawl my way there.
“…… For the time being, we should focus our efforts on exploring the dungeon.”
「In that case, we shall continue to investigate the Artificial Magic Stone in here and see if it is going to lead us to the one who’s behind it. We shall contact you when we get some new information.」
“I’m so sorry, Lava. Because the leylines are really unstable here, I can’t be sure if your information will reach us in time.”
「I felt that, too. In that case, let’s ask the spirits to carry our information on a regular basis.」
“I don’t like the idea of not being able to hear Lava’s voice for a while, but I guess it cannot really be helped.”
…… Hearing that my face got a little bit red, and I could hear Ligurila sigh in an overly dramatic manner.
Well, now that our plan of action was decided, there was one last thing than needed to be discussed.
While I was about to bring it up, Senjiro spoke.
“If they can extract the monster’s cores, then it means that the enemy has someone on their side who can control monsters. So maybe they even have a demon on their side.”
Noticing the meaning behind Senjiro’s words, Ligurila first opened her eyes wide, and then she squinted them into barely visible slits.
「Ara, what’s this? Are you perhaps worried about me?」
“I wouldn’t say that. But I wouldn’t want someone else to take control of you, Ligurila-dono. That would truly be a problem.”
「Fuh, what a stupid question. I am my one and only master. And I am not going to let anyone else control me.」
“Is that so? That, that makes me a little bit relieved.”
To me, it seemed that Ligurila was slightly stunned by Senjiro’s honest words.
Maybe it was because it was so rare of an occurrence that someone was actually worried about her.
「Kyle is sure to take good care of you. Especially right now, when he’s a full-fledged demon.」
“Ahh, take care, you two!”
“Lava, please don’t overdo it.”
「Yeah, you guys be careful as well.」
After that I ended the conversation, and immediately Ligurila turned to me and spoke up.
「So? What are you going to do now?」
「As I said earlier, by stopping the circulation of the Artificial Magic Stone on the market, we will eventually get rid of it completely. If possible, we shall also retrieve the monster nuclei so that no further stones could be created.」
「And the real goal?」
「Burn it to the ground.」
Hearing that, Ligurila laughed cheerfully, bringing her hands together.
「I like those ideas. I like them a lot. Even though the former seems much easier to accomplish then the latter. Alright, I shall help you.」
「Thanks. …… But I don’t have a single clue how to achieve this goal. The fastest way would be to meet with the magician behind this and make him stop, but we don’t even know who that is and where to find him.」
The only thing that we knew was that the nobles of this country were somehow involved in all this.
That was way too vague and gave us literally no starting point.
「Can’t we do it the way we did it in Ballow?」
Being suggested to do the skit with a beautiful evil mastermind once again, my cheeks turned red with embarrassment when I remembered the past event with the King of Ballow. No, we won’t be doing that again. I give Ligurila a look that cut any further discussion.
「That was only because we needed a fast and fool-proof solution right off the bat. However, in this case we can use a much easier method.」
「And what would that be? Say, if you can talk directly to the masterminds, we can either persuade them or use torture on them to stop doing what they are doing and spill the beans about their whole plan. Wouldn’t that be nice?」
「Ligurila, calm down, let’s not get too ahead of ourselves! You know that I don’t like such drastic measures!」
「I’m just making a suggestion to get rid of the problem as fast as possible. Please consider it.」
Well, yes, I realize that. But, what pains me the most is the fact that Ligurila was dead serious about that suggestion.
「But how do we even get in touch with the nobles or royalty? Do we even have access to the castle?」
If possible, I would like to avoid gathering too much attention to myself.
If our identities were to be discovered and connected with this incident, our peaceful lives amongst humans would basically be over.
However, Ligurila didn’t seem bothered at all. Rather, her eyes were gleaming with confidence.
「That won’t be much of a problem. So for now let’s leave it at that. More importantly, whatever shall we do about the stones that are already on the market? We could technically track them down one by one, but it’s a task that is totally ineffective in my opinion.」
「Maybe we can steal them? I think that the bigger the stone the bigger nucleus it is going to leave behind, so first of all let’s go to the stores dealing in magical items and look there.」
Doing something like that was far better than nothing.
I know it is technically a theft, but it is something that I’ll have to live with.
「The problem begins with the stones that already reached the upper classes……」
Larger stones would be in the hands of magicians and nobility, but we didn’t know the exact number.
「That’s something we need to seriously think about. –– Now then, shall we get something for breakfast? I’m starving.」
Urged by Ligurila, we were going to think about all this while having breakfast, but then a hotel maid came to our room with a bunch of letters addressed to Ligurila.
「Morton-sama, Figura-sama, there’s a letter for you.」
Ligurila opened one of them and after reading through its contents she looked at me and smiled.
「Mostly invitations to the tea parties from the people that were present at the last party. Gossips, clothing consultation, requests for dresses…… That kind of things.」
The names written on the envelopes were mostly of Hesat’s nobility.
While looking at the letters, I absent-mindedly proceeded to put food onto my plate.
「…… Say, Ligurila? Did you expected something like that to happen?」
「The nobles in this country have a huge sense of rivalry between themselves. Hell, probably even greater than that absurd rivalry they feel towards Ballow. Even Countess Avar, the absolute top among all of them, would become livid if she knew that the king of Ballow ordered a dress from me. She would most certainly try to outdo him.」
Certainly, since Ligurila’s handiwork was a real piece of art, people like Madame Chinon would surely take delight in knowing that everyone else were envious of her.
However, I think that Ligurila herself knew about that, and was choosing her clients wisely according to whoever could earn her the most profit. I also remember her saying that she wanted to become nobility herself.
I shall probably never mention that little tidbit to Sen-san.
「Oh well, I must make sure that at least Countess Avar stays fond of me, since she’s one of my most well-situated customers. As for the royal family, I shall do my very best. We should start our gathering from the aristocrats and then work our way up. I’ll need your help with that, Lava.」
…… In other words, I was supposed to do her dirty work for her.
Just how much did she learn from this one party?
I wanted to say, but I decided to keep that to myself.
「Hmm, and what is this something that you need my help with?」
「It looks like your name and looks became quite famous thanks to that one trick you pulled off at the party. It says here that you are also being invited together with me. Thanks to that you have your way in.」
Ahaha, good one! …… But seriously, after that, since lots of people knew me now, we needed to come with a suitable backstory for me.
It was really unbelievable, but it will have to suffice.
「The upper classes love their gossips. You could even say that they are the cornerstone of their relationships, no matter where you go. And because your little trick was thoroughly enjoyed, you can expect people wanting you to do this again. Those tricks will be our chance to get close to the magic stones.」
Ligurila giggled mysteriously while saying that.
It was a mysterious, yet reliable smile.
「Amazing, you’re amazing, Ligurila!」
「Now, let the hunt begin! We shall get this matter over with before Senjiro and the others!」
Ligurila’s smile was beaming, as if she was ready to battle.
Then Ligurila reached out for another letter, but just before she was about to open it, her hand stopped.
「Ara? This one is addressed to you, Lava.」
Ligurila turned over the amber envelope to double-check, and the name of the addressee was indeed Lava Figura.
Speaking of which, didn’t the maid mentioned both Morton-sama and Figura-sama?
Ligurila turned over the envelope, this time looking for the sender’s name, and an image of surprise blossomed on her face.
「Lishella Von Avar?」
It was from the daughter of the Avar family, one of the families that Ligurila wanted us to rob.
「Looks like you managed to score us some really big game, Lava.」
「No, but, I didn’t really do anything!?」
I just asked her for her name. I didn’t really do anything that was especially outstanding. How did she even know that I was living with Ligurila!?
Opening the letter and reading through its contents, it was an invitation to the Avar estate in the capital city to a private tea party together with Lishella.
Although her mother, Countess Avar, was giving an impression of a rather flashy woman, her daughter looked nothing like her, giving the impression of a rather quiet and timid girl.
It was a really strange experience to receive a letter from someone you hardly even know, but its tone was really somber and somewhat exalted, written in straight and elegant handwriting. Somehow, it was perfectly overlapping with the girl’s image that was stuck in my memory.
「What is this……?」
「It’s not really an obligatory invitation per se. It’s meaning is something in the lines of ‘if you have time in the future, then by all means please come with a visit’. It goes to show that the other party is serious about this.」
Said Ligurila while peeking at the letter’s contents from the side. For some reason, I felt really embarrassed just about now.
「The Avar family is one of the biggest financial backers of the Artificial Magic Stones, so it would definitely be worth our while to get closer to them. That’s an opportunity we cannot allow ourselves to miss. I’ll help you write a reply, so sit down and get to it!」
There was still lots of unknowns surrounding this letter, so I was really hoping that I wasn’t about to jump straight into my enemy’s hands.
Prompted by Ligurila, I took the pen in my hand and began writing an answer.