When things are this bad, she’s left with no choice.
“Lord Alois! We need to talk!”
The doors of that room on the second floor were thrown open. It was the office directly up the stairs from the entrance hall.
And none other than Alois’ private study.
His workspace was in the middle of the room, surrounded by high bookshelves. As Alois sat behind his desk, he looked surprised as Camilla came striding in.
– He really is imposing in his own way, isn’t he?
Even though documents were piled up all over the desk and floors, it was still easy to spot the huge Alois. He was already quite a tall man, so when you added on all that excess meat he really did cut quite an intimidating figure.
The excavation reports from the mining site in Grenze and elsewhere, along with reports about the density of miasma and the strength of its magical power. Alois still towered over that mountain of reports from all over his territory. Actually, you could see him protruding from the sides of his desk.
“Camilla, is something wrong? If you have something to tell me, can it wait until our usual tea time?”
Alois put his pen down, as he looked confused at why Camilla had stormed into his office looking so incensed.
Just like before they had gone to Grenze, she and Alois still took tea together daily.
Compared to how their talks over tea used to be, things were a little more gentle now. Although it’s hard to say that the two of them have much in the way of common interests, Alois can speak about current events and Camilla can tell stories of her days in the capital. And, as far as Camilla is concerned, she doesn’t say ‘lose weight’ quite as much as she used to.
As for their morning or afternoon tea times themselves, there wasn’t any change in the heaping of sweets and cakes being served, but Alois didn’t eat quite as much of it as he used to. Although to Camilla, it was hard to see much of a change.
But, for now, she’s just happy that he’s at least showing that he’s sincere in wanting to lose weight on his own. He stopped taking a meal between dinner and bedtime, although he still eats those other seven meals and doesn’t seem to have lost weight at all, at least there’s some progress… She wants to believe.
To be honest, she still has her suspicions.
However, right now there’s something else on her mind.
“Lord Alois, do you know about this maid called Nicole!?”
“That blonde girl, the one with the freckles! Just who is that girl!? She has been constantly taking over my care on behalf of the senior maids every day since we returned!”
Alois blinked in bewilderment as Camilla raged.
“Ah,” then he nodded. It seems like he knows who this Nicole was after all.
“Nicole is taking care of you personally? Shouldn’t she only be given some simple cleaning tasks?”
That’s right. Nicole’s regular job was cleaning the corridors and tidying up the storerooms.
She couldn’t wash dishes because she would clumsily drop the plates, she couldn’t do the laundry because she would accidentally tear the clothes and gardening was completely out of the question. She was only given tasks that didn’t require much skill. So, because of all that, she was relegated to only the most foolproof of cleaning jobs.
Incidentally, Nicole has only been a maid at this mansion for a few months. But, the number of incidents were already uncountable. She was already well known as a problem maid.
This month had only just begun and it was shaping up to be Nicole’s worst one yet. She had already broken entire trays of plates and an expensive vase. Gerda was trying her best to keep her doing as little work as possible, but because Nicole was so oddly enthusiastic about her job that was proving to be harder than expected.
“When she came to my room this morning, she put me through a real ordeal. I honestly thought that she was sent there to harass me!”
“Why did you hire a girl like that!? No matter how you spin it, she is clearly not suitable at all!?”
Nicole wasn’t cut out to be a maid. She was so clumsy that she couldn’t even use a comb properly. For some reason, though, she had a strange passion for the job.
– She would be much better off if she simply made use of that magic of hers to get a job researching sorcery or magic tools.
With those red eyes of hers, she wouldn’t have any problem getting a job like that.
All human beings have some innate magical power, but the strong powers possessed by those with red eyes are exceptionally rare. Having enough magical power that it can visually manifest in your eyes, it was perhaps as uncommon as one in a thousand.
The amount of magical power that a human can possess is something bestowed by nature. Even if you use magical tools to supplement it, one can never increase their innate levels of magic energy. Magical power also takes time to be restored after being used. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that simply having a lot of magical energy marked you out as a talent.
And when it came to jobs that required strong magical power, ‘Sorcery Research’ and ‘Magical Tool Development’ were the main ones that came to mind.
Although researching sorceries could be seen as a bit old fashioned due to the widespread use of magical tools, it is still a very popular field. True sorcery has been around for countless many years more than magical tools, and the pursuit of arcane power and higher truths continue to puzzle and intrigue inquisitive minds to this day.
Magic tools provide the mundane, sorcery unlocks the mystical… Was that how the quote by that researcher went?
People with high magical power are always in demand. You can use a manastone to increase your magical output temporarily, but in the end, it’s only borrowed power. Only with a person’s latent magical energies can they explore true magic.
On the other hand, the development of magical tools has become big business.
The selling point of these tools is that anyone can use them.
Using manastones to continuously and effectively power a large number of tools is not something you could replicate using human magic. Take for example the manastone powered lights that illuminate the streets at night. If you were to try and use human magic for that job, you would have a person standing on the street all night radiating like a magic bulb.
Magic tools that emit heat or cool down areas can’t perform any complicated tasks, but to an extent that isn’t a problem. The main purpose of a magical tool is to create a mechanism that can be turned on and off easily, whilst only consuming a small amount of magical power in its operation.
Of course, the development of magical tools is always haunted by the specter of failure. Rather than wasting manastones hand over fist during the testing phase, it’s much cheaper to power tools still in development with magical power directly from a person. Unlike the research into sorcery, which is sometimes pursued for the romance of it all, magical tool development is purely for profit.
For Camilla, she has half a mind to help her find a new job herself.
Getting her as far away as possible? She wouldn’t say that. It’s not as if she has any particular hard feelings for the girl. She could even write her a recommendation letter. Well, since there isn’t anyone who would accept that considering Camilla’s current reputation, she may have to rely on Alois for that matter.
“Hmm…” Alois groaned to himself.
Apparently, though, the man himself is unwilling, unfortunately.
“…That girl has some unique circumstances. I have a relationship with her family as well. I will see that she doesn’t bother you anymore, so can you forgive her just this once?”
“She hasn’t been asking permission to come and see me anyways! She just does it by herself!”
In the first place, Nicole isn’t a high-ranking enough maid that she should be entrusted to care for Camilla.
“Anyways, is she the daughter of someone important after all? What exactly is her family’s standing?”
Camilla had heard that Nicole was from a low ranking aristocratic bloodline.
Such a low ranking family would usually never be able to preoccupy the mind of a duke for long. Of course, if he completely ignored these small houses there may be some unrest, but their power was minuscule enough by comparison that he could quash them even if they banded together.
“It isn’t the kind of thing that you would be happy to hear about, Camilla.”
“Ha ha…”, Alois breathed a strained laugh, trying not to catch Camilla’s eye. Then, he casually took a document about weather conditions and wind currents from the top of the pile. Oh, it seems that there has been a build-up of miasma in the air in the west causing skin irritations, how interesting?
– He is trying to palm me off.
The fight they had gotten into over who was being ‘insincere’ was still fresh. She got angry just remembering and was about to yell at Alois when…
There was a sound of something big shattering outside.
It sounded like it was nearby as well. Before the echo of that smashing sound disappeared, someone’s piercing yell rang through it.
“Nicole! You… You lost control of your magical powers again!? Just how many times has it been now!?”
“Yes! This is the seventh time in total and the sixth time this month!”
As Camilla turned back to Alois, she saw that he had his head in his hands.
Camilla darted through the doors of the office out of sheer curiosity, and from the top of the stairs, she could see the entrance to the mansion.
Beside the entrance, there were two large pots with beautiful symmetrical patterns. Well, now there was only one. The unfortunate pot that became a casualty was smashed into tiny pieces on the ground.
Looking at it, one could see that it hadn’t simply been dropped and broken like that. If you had dropped it on the floor, it would have smashed into all sorts of mismatched jagged debris. Instead, the pieces on the ground were all exactly the same uniform shape.
Besides the scattered fragments, there was a senior maid as well as Nicole, bowing at almost a perfect right angle. Nearby, the servants that had been busy working stopped to stare at the scene.
Following after Camilla dashed out, Alois rushed into the hallway as well, albeit a little slower. He stood next to Camilla as they watched what was going on.
“Why are you working here in the first place!? Weren’t you assigned to sweep leaves in the garden!?”
“Yes! I told the maid assigned here that I wanted to do this job no matter what, so I took her place!”
“And I told you clearly to only do the work you are given! That’s because you can’t handle your magical power at all!”
“Yes! I am deeply sorry!”
As Nicole bellowed out those words, the senior maid sighed as she shook her head. She did her best to not get angry as she lowered her voice.
“….My goodness, you’re from the Ende family, so just why are you like this?”
That quiet voice of hers carried well across the hall. Nicole raised her head as if those words had startled her. She opened her mouth to say something… But, before she could let the words out, the senior maid kept talking.
“That’s enough already. You can finish up for today. I’ll report all of this to Miss Gerda.”
Nicole bowed deeply again. Then, she turned quickly around on her heel and left through the entrance.
Now that Camilla knew the truth, Alois lay his hand across his forehead as if he had given up.
“Ende… She said…?”
“It’s exactly as you think.”
“The Baronial House of Ende…”
The family of the woman who had defeated Camilla back in the capital and exiled her to this inhospitable place.
She never thought that she would hear that hateful family name again all the way out here.