Translator: Adam Seacord
「Oh, you saw me… Well, yes. It is a little embarrassing knowing that someone I know was watching. 」
Knight Layla, who served House Lambert, answered with a blush of shyness. She was a knight who didn’t own land, and lived near the shop.
「Because, well… In last year’s horse-riding tournament, I was the only woman who placed. Although I’m certainly no fancy lady, they must have considered me somewhat more presentable than men.」
Growing up in the country, I could ride a horse without any lessons. I understood how tiresome and difficult is was to keep a slow… no, a smooth pace of the horse while waving a hand or conducting people. I could only imagine the strain would be wearing a full ceremonial armor like Layla did. She looked truly impressive on her horse during the parade. I doubted that Olivia could do the same, much less myself.
「But that was impressive. You may say there’s nothing special since you’re a knight, Layla-san, but those maneuvers were unbelievable to a run-of-the-mill horse rider like me. 」
「All thanks to the horse. My techniques aren’t impressive at all.」
Sure, the horse looked abundant in elegance and performance, but… It seemed that Layla had low self-esteem.
「That being said. What I want to talk to you today, is…」
I brought up what I had been thinking about, interrupting the end of her sentence, that I want her to wear items from my shop for advertisement… Essentially as a walking billboard. I figured a person with enough clout to lead a parade would bring in the desired effect.
It sure was a small world. This nice woman worked for House Lambert, who tried to kill Olivia. Could Layla have something to do with that? Did she not know a thing? If she had no knowledge of it, I might be able to collect some intel on House Lambert through her. It was so sudden, I struggled to gather my thoughts.
「I’m sorry. I missed that. What did you say? 」
I was lost in my thoughts for a minute. Layla continued, now with some pity in her voice.
「You really have your guard down, don’t you… This may be a safer part of town, but that doesn’t mean there are no thieves around.」
「How embarrassing. It hasn’t even been a month since I’ve opened shop, so I was just thinking of some marketing strategies.」
That wasn’t lie. I just had more thoughts than I had lead on.
「Well, I guess what you’re offering me to do… Is a marketing strategy, I suppose, but… Are you sure? Isn’t this expensive?」
Layla looked likely she simply didn’t know what to do. Even though we would become enemies… She was a knight of House Lambert (which would soon become our enemy) at any case, but I could not get myself to hold any animosity towards her. I don’t know how she acts on duty, but on the streets, she is endlessly nice and never stops trying to take care of everybody. When I had just moved in, it was her and her old lady, who used to be her nanny, who introduced me to the neighbors, and also to the notable people in the neighborhood who I hadn’t dealt with much other than obtaining my merchant’s license.
All I got from the people she introduced me to was that she simply operate under a knight’s moral code, without consideration for her own gains, confirming my assumption. To top it off, I had heard that she was teaching the kids in the slums from time to time. She apparently received small tokens for her time, but never in money.
Knights are often not born in to the job, and they are at the bottom of the ranks, but are nonetheless nobles. It was rare for one to carry their life so close to peasants… Although, that may only be a prejudice of mine. I just considered her an exception to the majority of knights, just as Olivia was to nobles.
I had offered Layla to lend her armor printed with a small logo for my store (on a tasteful floral pattern, designed by Astarte). Gloves that are water resistance and stay dry on the inside, gauntlets that cover up to the elbows, chainmail to be worn under the armor, and metal-plated long boots. They are all lightened by around 10% from my enchantment magic. Since I didn’t create the base armor themselves, these were quite costly, but now that magical powers have been trickling in from the girls at the brothel, I could mass-produce them, magic-wise. They don’t overpower in combat, but the user could definitely feel the difference. Humbly, I was considering these to become the window pieces for the shop.
「It’s light… Are you sure they’ll handle well?」
Layla asked, as she checked the thickness of the metal part of the gauntlet.
「Of course. Where I get them from is proprietary, but it will handle just like a normal gauntlet. It’s enchanted with magic to be lighter.」
「…So, how much would this normally cost…?」
Layla continued timidly. I purchase the materials for items in my shop from blacksmiths from other towns, outside of Abram. If I purchased them from within the city and sold them as magical items, people would notice that I was the enchantment warlock. I wanted to avoid that as much as possible.
These purchases were possible through Gustuv’s, and connections I’ve made with merchants I came to know while making arrangements for human smuggling in the dungeon in the mines village. Of course, I didn’t intend to share that with Layla, or anyone else.
So, I can bring lower-quality armor up to par, and if I used more magical powers, I can make it better than most. In the end, my cost was about the same as purchasing regular armor. In other words, no matter how much I tried to cut prices, it would still cost me as much as buying regular armor.
「For you, with a little discount… Something like this.」
「I guess that’s dirt-cheap for a piece of magical armor, but… I could never afford that, you know.」
Layla usually spoke in a masculine manor, perhaps out of her sense of responsibility as a knight, or force of habit, but once in a while she showed her feminine side.
「I do have my costs. I can’t afford to lose money, that’s all.」
「Of course, you’re right… Rental, you say… That’s why there’s no shield nor body armor…?」
Layla mumbled, as she looked over the products on the table and the list of them. I wasn’t sure if she was asking me or herself, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to answer.
「I only thought that knights may have certain responsibilities and obligations. When I saw you at the parade, you were holding a shield with the crest of a tower and a griffon. I couldn’t slap my shop’s advertisement where a house sigil is meant to be. 」
「…If I dared such a thing, I think my master would cut off my head.」
「You’re master… Or boss, should I say? What’s he like? I’m not from here, and it’s not like I can understand the sigils, so I only presumed you worked for a noble, but… To be honest, I’m hoping to do business with him, too. It would mean a lot to my shop’s reputation, I think.」
「Aha, you’re a brazen man… Well, you must have to be when you own a business. I’m not too sheltered as to take offense or laugh at that attitude, but I haven’t been out in the world enough to know if what you’ve said is all that remarkable, either. My master is the head of House Lambert. House Lambert is a rightful noble house here, with relatives in House Blare, including the current Earl Abram. A very powerful house in this city. The next head of the house, Master Lubreo… Is wonderfully skilled in combat, as well as politics.」
When Layla said so, I thought that I caught her eyes wonder for an instant. While I almost brushed it off, a weird feeling stuck with me.
…Does Layla have the hots for Lubreo, the next head of the house?
「I hope I’m not being too forward, but when you greeted the troops at the parade. Did you go out there as a House Lambert’s knight, or a representative of the knights at Abram’s castle?」
Appearing in a parade would have been an honorable opportunity for a knight. Was there a reason why House Lambert’s leader-in-line did not make an appearance?
「That, well… Had to do with the House. House Lambert is a noble house, and has strong connections to many other houses, too. Naturally, they need to make appearances to many events like the one you saw. However, both Master and Master Lubreo are very busy. It would be different if it was for House Blare, but it’s not often that either of them will make the time for other houses.」
I summarized what she had said in my mind:
So they only send a representative for nobles on lower footings than themselves.
Just as Olivia had said, they seemed to be the nobler-than-thou types.
「Still, they send you out to ceremonies like that, so House Lambert must have faith in you. I hear there are few female knights to begin with, I think that’s very impressive.」
Hearing my annotation, Layla chuckled in a self-deprecating manner. I had another weird feeling about that. It seemed different from her usual, honest laughter.
「Well… Ordering another knight to do would cost them some. Besides, I’m sure a woman brightened up the parade a little, no matter how gruff I am. That’s what they think, anyway. That kind of thing is a show for the soldiers and the people, not for us or the higher-ups in the castle. 」
I could understand that. In a strict financial sense, a parade is nothing but a big waste of time and money. Still, it was needed to publicize the soldiers’ victory and safe return to provide the people with some comfort. There was a parade when Olivia returned, and I had heard that the troops had to waste a night right outside of town while waiting for them to prepare it.
Still, I would have thought that a contract knight… Some who doesn’t own land, and works for a master under contract would receive some sort of reward for making an appearance to an honorable event.
Apparently, it was written all over my face. Layla gave a small chuckle, and told me:
「I may be a contracted knight, but in actuality, I’m the one who gets to work for House Lambert as a knight, because… I am a knight of a house that should have died out. My father was a criminal.」
That evening, Sara popped by for the first time in a while.
「Elliot, did you here? I heard the circus is coming to town!」
I wasn’t listening, but I bring back my attention when Daria and Sara poke me.
「Master, um… What’s a circus…?」
「Circus… A group of travelling entertainers, I think. I’ve never seen one in real life.」
「It seems like they’re bigger than that They asked for permission to stay in the field outside of the new part of town, so they may stick around for a while?」
Interesting. Wherever a crowd goes, merchants follow. There’s going to be a lot of information and merchandise floating around.
It would also be nice for Daria and Astarte, and the girls at the brothel to do something like this once in a while.
「That’s right. Sara, I want you to ask Olivia something. …There is a lady named Layla. She’s a knight working for House Lambert. It seemed that her house was almost disgraced… Or died out, nearly.」
Sara nodded, silently. I should be able to hear all about it when I would go to deliver today’s order this weekend.
「House Lambert, you say. That’s right, I needed to tell you, Elliot. Although it’s not made public, House Lambert almost certainly has a house wizard. They have an eye pointing towards the court, just like you have. It might even be… An enchantment wizard.」
I see. It looks like my smooth sailing has come to an end.