Master (Leon’s Side)
Even though I had been disinherited from the family of Count Schafe and now lived alone as a teacher, I still heard the rumours that she had returned to the capital.
That’s why, I had held some hope that in some way, in some form, we might meet again.
There was so much I wanted to thank her for, so much of what I had accomplished I wanted to show her. There was so much that I wanted to tell her.
But, the one thing I really wanted to say to her, at least, was that I’m glad she managed to return back alive. However…
“Ah, damn it, what do you think you’re doing!? If you thrash around that much, you’ll hurt your neck!”
Just what was this? Why was I having to struggle to get Master down from the trap she was hanging upside down in? What kind of stupid excuse for a heartfelt reunion was this?
“Ugh… I just came here to see my cute little disciple… But what’s with the strength…?”
Was it because of my words or the enchantment on the rope? At any rate, her body relaxed.
“Well, there’s definitely a few things to this rope. Just staying conscious is actually quite impressive.”
A weakening spell, a coma-inducing curse, a paralysis enchantment… I encountered a few other spells I didn’t even remember putting into this length of rope as I slowly and carefully disenchanted the thing.
Although, the first person who ever triggered my trap was Master… but perhaps this level of spellmanship is ineffective against her? It needs more refinement…
“After sixteen years, even my adorable disciple has gotten taller than me… And you can even cast forbidden curses like that now…”
As I was lost in thought, I heard Master’s voice in my ear.
Whilst I’m glad to hear the praise, what’s really quite staggering is that in just a few minutes Master has become the only person to ever see my true side like this. At any rate, it wouldn’t do to be overly pleased, so I tried to answer her back coldly.
“Well, I have no lack of enemies. What’s more, people would truly be shocked if they saw what I held in this room. Honestly speaking, this much security isn’t even enough.”
One of the hidden rooms that I inherited from Master.
When she finally freed herself from the cursed rope, I motioned to the collections on the shelves around us and a nostalgic smile spread across her face.
“So, what’s the real reason that you suddenly came here at this time? You’re not going to lie about just being in the neighbourhood, are you?”
It was already the dead of night. If I hadn’t realized that she, or some other intruder, had broken into this room of mine, I would already be asleep by now.
Since she was the one who taught me how to set up a magical alarm system, surely she must have known that I would rush here straight away after she triggered it, since there was no way I could just go to bed knowing there was an intruder. I wish she could have just paid me a visit during the day, though.
When I questioned her doubtfully, she shook her head.
“No, it’s true, you know? Have a look at this.”
What she pulled out of her dress pocket was a mask with feline-like features, but only made so that it would cover the top part of her face.
A mask. The middle of the night. I didn’t have any information about any sort of gathering happening nearby tonight… So, it was something like that, then?
“Ahh, a masquerade ball, was there something like that happening around here tonight…?”
A masquerade. Although clandestine meetings were often done wearing masks, balls and parties held behind closed doors with such disguises were popular in the capital, often leading to one night only rendezvous of sorts.
Noticing my barely disguised derision of the entire sordid practice, she spat out a sigh.
“Right. Apparently, I’m officially a widow now? I’m not sure how, since I was never married, but that’s happened all the same. One of the morons from my parents’ house tried to hit on me, asking me if I had a ‘taste’ for such things. Damn it all, sixteen years have passed and they’re all still such shitheads!”
Uwah… She really hasn’t changed much either, though… After laughing venomously, she continued angrily.
“The old man Marschner must have heard about everything that happened and is trying to pull me back into the fold. But, I couldn’t think of anything else I wanted to do less, so I faked an illness and thought that would be the end of it, but then I realized that the venue was unexpectedly quite close to the school. So, after sleeping for a while, I slipped away in the middle of the night to come and see my cute little disciple again, that’s all.”
Just who was trying to suit her? Actually, I really shouldn’t ask.
As I caught myself glaring at the mask when listening to that unsavoury story, she threw it at me as I barely caught it in time.
“Here, take it. The mask itself is a sign of invitation, so if you wear it you’ll be allowed into the venue. Whether you’re interested in gathering some intelligence or just playing with fire, it’ll be useful either way.”
“No, but, this is a woman’s mask, isn’t it?”
Surely, as an outcast of a noble it was difficult to gather information in aristocratic circles so getting into such a venue would be invaluable, but there’s no chance I would be allowed through the door wearing a mask like this. In the first place, I’m not really that interested in ‘playing with fire’.
When I said that, she clapped her hands together forcefully.
“Is that so? Then, you don’t want it?”
“No, I’ll take it. Besides, I don’t want you to have something like this on you.”
It seemed like she caught the intention of my words as she craned her neck up at me.
“Because you’re the master that’s precious to me, and I’ve always admired. I’d rather not see you get caught up in something dangerous.”
When she heard that, she covered up her grin as she giggled happily.
“Oh my, Leon, you really have gotten big, huh~?”
She didn’t have any mercy for her disciple, as I didn’t mince my words.
“Yes, that’s right, I’m already the same age as your husband was back then.”
Then, I took a step. She watched me calmly as I stepped closer towards her.
“Ah, that’s right, isn’t it…? But, for me, to love anyone other than August is…”
She spoke the truth. There wasn’t any trembling in her voice, if I pushed her too hard here she would go on to firmly reject me.
“I know. But you saved me, so I admire and respect you, and if there’s anything I can ever do for you, I want to do it. That’s all I was thinking.”
For now, at least. But, I left that last part out.
When she heard those words of mine, that sly smile returned to her lips.
“Is that so? Well then, when it comes to my little Finne, could I ask Mister Leon to give her some supplementary lessons?”
Seeing that she was trying to lighten the mood a little bit, I smiled as well as I replied.
“That seems like an awful pain, I don’t want to do it. Besides, even if I don’t do anything, I’m sure that elder sister of hers Liselotte Riefenstahl will do something anyway.”
“What a heartless disciple you are! As your Master, I don’t remember raising you to be such a cruel child!”
“I don’t remember you raising me in the first place.”
As I caught her eye, we both cracked into grins as we laughed.
Even if she won’t let me get closer than this, for now, it isn’t so bad either.
“Hey, Master… on that day, why did you decide to make me your disciple?”
As a soft silence descended after our laughter, I gently decided to ask the question that had been burning me ever since we parted.
“Hmm~… Well, compared to most people, I’ve always sort of lived on instinct. That was the reason I picked up Karschen that day in the kitchen as well, but if you ask me for a specific reason, hmm…”
She paused as if she were chewing on the words before finally letting them out.
“Well, if you were going to twist my hand for an answer, when I saw you that day you had a face that looked like it was saying ‘I’ve already given up’, so I guess I wanted to see it crack a smile someday, or something like that?”
Hearing her words, I couldn’t stop the big smile creeping to my face, which the Fairy Princess returned with her own soft and elegant smile.
I may have surpassed her when it came to spell casting and forbidden curses, but when it came to wearing masks, I’m not sure I’ll ever surpass Master. And, for some reason, that made me happy.