Translator: Denryuu; Editor: Ryunakama
Having gathered all the necessary herbs in record time, I created a ‘Gate’ in order to make a detour to my house to hand Rodje the Instant Miracles.
「Will this really work?」
「No clue. But chances are it’s better than continuing to take medicine made by humans.」
It seems like we have enough to make quite a bit of medicine.
「I’ll make it alone. Don’t even think of peeping into the room.」
「I have no interest in the technique itself. As long as you can deliver, you can do whatever you like. How much can you make?」
「Oh, about three months’ worth. You’d better be grateful to me, human. I’m using techniques that should never have left the forest.」
「I find nothing to be more boring than self-praise. I’ll be returning to the capital.」
「H-Hold on –! Listen to meeeee!」
Ufufufu, giggled Dee on the sidelines.
「Commander Rodje’s words are indeed boring. Nobody really cares what elves do in that exclusive little forest of theirs.」
「Kuh. And the humiliation wheel spins and lands on elves today huh, zombie vampire?」
「Ara-ara, no, not at all. You simply speak of elven techniques as if you were the one who invented them, and I think that’s the silly part.」
Rolling her eyes, she glared at Dee, to which the vampire smiled as always. After all this time, I still can’t tell whether their relationship leans more toward love or hate.
「…At any rate, thanks for the help, Rodje.」
「…What are you saying all of a sudden? I’m only fulfilling the wishes of Lylael-sama. I don’t need a single word of thanks from someone like you」, she snorted.
Before returning to the capital, I popped by the guild to have a short discussion with Iris.
「Hm. I see. This might be interesting.」
She seemed all for it.
「I’ll bring it up to the other branch chiefs nearby… but how are you going to get back to the capital? Aren’t you in the middle of the test?」
「Don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine.」
With that, I headed for my original destination.
That same night, I told Lyla about the day’s events while she used her arm as a substitute for my pillow.
「According to Rodje, we can’t say that the medicine will work for sure, but it’s still better than leaving things be.」
I was speaking at almost a whisper, but the house was quiet enough for it to be heard clearly.
「She’s not a doctor after all. Rodje’s a person who needs a lot of praise and affirmation, too.」
「She also mentioned that she would have that medic on the island verify her product for her. She’s a capable, loyal subordinate no matter what.」
「Right? She is a subordinate I can be proud of.」
Being loyal to the point of idiocy might be one of her only weaknesses.
Lyla pointed to my chest and stroked it gently, slowly moving down to the scar below.
「Humans are really such petty, surface-level creatures. Elves were once a very outgoing species, you know? It’s said that they receded into the forest because of humans.」
While many different species can be found in the capital, there is still blatant discrimination elsewhere. Guess you can’t expect the mixed-human species’ war contributions to be known to the public.
「An elf… have you?」, asked Lyla.
「What do you mean?」
「Have you… hugged an elf before…?」, she continued, staring at me.
「Hmph. Their immortality ensures them a pretty face after all. Must have been fun during the war.」
Having placed considerable emphasis on ‘a pretty face’ for some reason, she rolled to the other side of the bed.
「Uuuuu…! At least try to deny it! Stop praising other girls to my face!」
「Facts are facts.」
「Sigh, I’m jealous… and I’m in a bad mood too now…」
She tried to retract the arm I was using as a pillow, but I held it in place.
「What to do. How do you think you can lift my mood?」
「Why are you asking me?」
She rolled back to face me again.
「Love me, and me only, tonight」, she whispered, placing a hand on my neck as she kissed me. 「It’s a privilege I accord only to you.」
「Some privilege it is.」
The following day, I had a simple breakfast before setting off for guild headquarters. I felt a little weary and had less energy than usual, but didn’t otherwise feel too different from when I had a good night’s sleep. Lyla was still asleep.
I found Rodje waiting for me outside headquarters.
「I heard that you’re taking the exam here」, she said, pressing a small bag into my palm.
「The medic has taken a look at it and she says even humans should have no problem with it.」
「Thank you. Lyla said she would reward you or something.」
「Really? It’s an honour, then.」
There was a piece of cloth protruding from her pocket.
I’ve seen that a few times before… aren’t those Lyla’s panties? But why would she be strutting around with something like that on her…? Could her devotion have gone to her head and made her want even her master’s panties? Maybe she had bought a similar pair as a good luck charm, but that isn’t any better.
I suppose I had just caught a glimpse of Rodje’s dark side. Maybe Lyla’s panties were like a Turin shroud of sorts to her — a relic left behind by her idol.
Panties… a relic? Or an artifact?
…Nope, can’t wrap my head around it at all.
「What, you still need something?」
「…No, not in the least.」
She cocked her head to one side in confusion. This might be a side of her even her master hasn’t seen before. I’ll have to warn Lyla about this when I get the chance.
To think that she had been praising the same elf last night…
I feel kind of bad for her. At the same time, I decided that I could learn to understand even this side of Rodje.
「Humans have the bad habit of trying to dispose of things they don’t understand.」
「Hm…? Ah, perhaps.」
I put the medicine in my breast pocket and entered the building. Walking over to the reception, I found the invigilator from yesterday doing paperwork behind the desk.
「Excuse me, about yesterday’s Plant Master practical test…」
「Ah, yes. Do you have any questions? You have until noon, so please don’t give up!」
「Eh? That was fast!」
His surprise was genuine.
「Only ten candidates have ever attempted to end it this quickly. Two of them were simply throwing in the towel, while the other eight had marks deducted for having others procure the goods for them.」
「Do you know when the latter occurs?」
「Yes. Unknown to the candidates until the time comes, they will be asked about each herb under our watch.」
I see. So that’s how they weed out the cheaters.
Come to think of it though, if one really wants to cheat, one has to ask someone else for the location of the herbs and actually go there to retrieve them. It also takes time to remember what one is taught. There’s no way a day is enough. Even if you have accomplices planted all over the capital, you’ll still fail the first component of the test without sufficient knowledge.
I handed him the test script along with the sack of herbs, then followed him to the same room as yesterday for the final hoop of the examination.
「…Let’s begin, then.」
The examiner asked questions about every single herb including their natural habitats, optimal growth conditions, flowering seasons and medicinal effects. Some questions were basic while others required a thorough, almost obsessive understanding of the topic at hand.
「Ugugugu…how? Didn’t you cheat…?」
「Not at all.」
「But Mediceps can only be found in a really dangerous area that needs time to get to…」
I’d rather he not look down on a former assassin like me… but I can’t say that out loud, of course.
「Making candidates go to a place like that, what a poorly designed test.」
「Guu… but the test was meant to fail you…!」
I knew that some of the questions had been ill-intentioned. They had had little effect on me though, so I tried pulling a reverse card and asking him difficult questions instead.
「The Mediceps you mentioned earlier prefer to grow in high-altitude places with lots of sunlight, right?」
「Hm, what about it?」
「There’s another place where they grow just as easily. Where do you think it is?」
Guess he doesn’t know.
He looked straight at me, then broke into a smile indicating that he had admitted defeat.
「Roland-san, you scored full marks for the theory test. And if my calculations are correct, you got a perfect score on this component too. I’m very sorry… your answers were so perfect that we naturally thought you were cheating.」
He nodded slightly.
「I found making mistakes to be the hard part.」
「Fufu… I’ll state the obvious, then. You’ve obtained the highest score in history, with the fastest time to boot. Congratulations, Roland-san. You’re now a certified Plant Master.」
I was informed that a badge would be delivered to my branch in a few days’ time. Come to think of it, it’s probably the same one that Morley wears.
「Are you a former adventurer? Or the disciple of a herbalist?」
「Neither. I was an assassin.」
The examiner laughed.
「Well, the knowledge you possess as an assassin is profound. Did you specialise in killing with poison?」
「I have done so when the circumstances called for it.」
I was being completely honest, but he didn’t seem to buy it at all.
「At any rate, you’re an interesting one」, said the examiner, smiling as he left.