“Rielle, are you okay?”
I approached the child in surprise.
Redias, who had determined that there was nothing suspicious in the vicinity in a short moment, walked ahead of me. The obstacles that had been scattered haphazardly inside the room were cleared away, and Rielle looked up at me, breathing harshly.
“Who are you…?”
If I had said Krua Argenta here, the child would have had a harder time breathing.
“I’m this mister’s friend.”
As I answered vaguely, I could feel Redias glancing back at me.
I muttered so with my lips to Redias and looked at the child.
“Did you perhaps eat the rations that came today?”
The child nodded her head slightly.
“I ate it earlier, but gradually, my breath became… strange.”
She was clutching her stomach, saying that it hurt.
“Just a moment, let me look at you.”
Hearing her words, I took the child’s hand. I became nervous when I saw her.
…Could I do it?
‘No, I have to do it.’
With that thought in my mind, I thought of the water and blood that would be inside the child’s body. I needed to drive out the toxins from the blood since the poison that was making the child suffer.
As I did so, I closed my eyes and my magic began to flow into the child’s body.
Was it because the child was small, or was it because my ability was stronger than I thought? The child’s body, in which blood was circulating, was clearly visible, as if I was looking into it directly.
However, I realized why only after using my ability. It was because I had come into contact with the child and the child didn’t have any aversion that I was able to approach the blood like this. No matter how strong my ability as an Alors was, it would be difficult to manipulate someone else’s blood from a distance.
“Just wait a little bit.”
I patted the back of the child’s hand and concentrated.
I tried to recall the sensation of driving out the poison from my body before. I concentrated on the energy spreading strongly around the heart, riding the current that felt like a thin stream of water. The current that had been resisting control gradually began to respond to my magic.
Finally, as if a blocked passage had opened up, magic circulated through the child’s body in a rapid flow before I began to slowly drive out the poison from the child’s body.
My magic became a fine-meshed strainer and filtered out the impurities.
The child’s breathing seemed to become a little easier. The impurities were drawn out through the child’s fingertips. When I slowly opened my eyes, I saw Redias wiping the child’s fingertips with a handkerchief.
“It’s the poison.”
Redias said quietly. It had been safely extracted.
“…Ah. Now, it doesn’t hurt anymore.”
The child opened her eyes wide. Perhaps because I had used my power, sweat had formed on my forehead.
“That’s a relief. Where are the items that came in this carriage?”
“They’re in the storeroom over there… Why?”
“Bad people put something bad in there.”
The child’s eyes widened at my words.
“Could it be, poison?”
He seemed to be more familiar with the word poison than I thought, even though he looked to be about six years old.
“Yes. Do you know where the storeroom is?”
At my words, the child ran quickly and pulled on a string on one side of the room.
The next moment, the sound of something opening could be heard from outside the room. It was clear that the string was also connected to the door in a similar way to the one at the front door of the house.
It didn’t seem like an ordinary house.
I tilted my head and headed for the storeroom.
* * *
After clearing out the items in the storeroom and replacing them with food that didn’t have any poison, we left the house.
“Sir Redias, pretty sister! I’ll see you again later!”
As Rielle waved her hand, I waved back at the child and got on the horse. Then, I left the place, escorted by the people.
“It was almost a disaster!”
Gazes filled with relief and gratitude were directed at me. It would only be a burden to the villagers if I stayed there for long, so I quickly headed for the mansion. And when I had put some distance between myself and the town, I once again fixed my headdress with the help of the maids.
While doing so, I looked back at Sir Redias.
“I didn’t know that you were so familiar with the villager.”
Despite the fact that I knew that he was particularly close with the mansion’s servants, I didn’t think he would know each and every one of the villagers. However, Redias shook his head as if to say that I had misunderstood.
“I’m only familiar with Rielle’s family. The sisters in that house had a hard time after their father died.”
…Sisters? Was there another daughter besides Riel?
“Still, I’m less worried now.”
“Where’s the other daughter?”
“She works at the mansion.”
Redias answered my question right away.
Was she a mansion servant? Who on earth? As I pondered, I suddenly recalled the complex devices inside the mansion.
“Don’t tell me those devices in the mansion as well…”
“Yes, they were made by the eldest daughter.”
Seeing that, I tilted my head before I suddenly remembered the vacant lot I had seen when I had left the mansion. The place where there were footprints firmly imprinted was connected to several devices.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that the place where someone had concentratedly stepped on was similar to the knights’ training ground.
“That vacant lot…”
“Rielle and many young people in the village are training there.”
“I heard that the village to the northwest is where the families of the Argentas who died or were severely injured on the battlefield gather.”
“Yes. And they also want to be used as troops in case of emergency.”
I knew that, too.
“You mean even the children have such thoughts?”
I thought that those who had lost their families to monsters right away wouldn’t want to wield their swords in the name of Argenta. However, it was unexpected that even the children, who knew the pain of that loss, would want to become an Argenta.
“Yes, because they know how important it is to have the power to protect themselves.”
Redias and I locked eyes.
I looked around the village. Maybe the child and others would start training again at that training ground once they recovered.
“That place will also need supplies.”
“Fresh supplies have already arrived. It’s a small amount, but it should last for a while.”
He uttered as if to reassure me, but I shook my head.
“Not food. The supplies that the people there need.”
Shadow supply… for those who had sacrificed themselves for Argenta.
I was very impressed by Argenta’s shadow supply. In this world where status existed, I knew how difficult it was to treat humans as humans. However, Argenta had never neglected the shadow supply, no matter how difficult the times were.
Those who received the supply pledged their loyalty to Argenta again. Nevertheless, it shouldn’t end there. I thought I should also repay them for the loyalty they had pledged again.
So, I read the shadow supply documents from time to time.
I wanted to let them know that those to whom they pledged their loyalty to—Diello and I—were fully aware of them.
I wanted to let them know that their loyalty was not one-sided.
“I wish you could build a small training ground in that village. It would be nice to have the knights who need a vacation teach the people there if they want.”
Seeing Redias’ eyes widen at my words, I told him.
“I want to give people what they really need. I think that’s the real meaning of shadow supply, don’t you think?”
He opened his mouth slightly at my words and slowly bowed his head.
“You are right.”
After a moment of silence, he continued.
“Madam is wise and strong, but above all.”
Huh? Suddenly, it was time for compliments?
Redias continued with a moved expression in front of me, whose face was turning red in embarrassment.
“You are a warm person. No matter what anyone says, you are definitely an Argenta.”
In fact, I had only done what was necessary. I wasn’t a part of them, and I had to show my worth while I was here. Still, why did this recognition feel so warm right now?
I thought his gaze had become even softer than before.
…As if he was looking at the villagers.
…As if he was looking at Diello.
Redias bowed even more politely.
“I will prepare as you command.”
* * *
“If the supplies were delivered this way, everyone would have suffered.”
This incident was, in a word, a wicked prank. As I narrowed my eyes, an Argenta, who was burning food in front of me, had a face of relief.
“There must have been a reason why they left the supplies behind.”
It must have been a plan to disperse the troops’ attention by slowly hurting the families of the frontline Argentas.
The Argenta, who was disposing of the items, looked at me with a new-found respect.
“The fumes are rising. Please stand a little further away.”
“This poison is harmless if we burn it without water.”
They insisted that I should step back, and they were even more attentive in their treatment of me.
‘As expected, it wasn’t a bandit’s doing.’
Even though I investigated just in case, the other merchants who bought the same food from the same store didn’t have this poison. It only appeared in our carriage, so that meant they mixed it in and ran away.
And the Intelligence Department found a clue while tracking the source of the poison.
I heard the news that evening while I was handling the work instead of Diello, who hadn’t returned yet because he was busy.
Vielle was the one who organized the informant’s report and handed it to me.
“There was always a river or water’s edge involved in the poison’s distribution route. It seems they quickly passed it on to the bandits.”
Water’s edge… If so, there was only one answer.
The culprits are people who could move quickly in the water. While Cartiel could have made the wind blow to move the ship quickly, they weren’t as fast as the Alors. Above all, Cartiel didn’t have the time to set up a trap right now.
“It’s the Alors.”
At my words, Vielle quietly observed me.
I looked up at her.
She hesitated for a moment before asking.
“I heard you went to the village northwest today.”
I blinked at her words.
“Yes. A child named Rielle was poisoned.”
Vielle was silent for a moment, and then she asked carefully.
“…Is the child okay?”
At those words, I looked up at her.
Her eyes, always cold, were the same now. However, this wasn’t the Vielle who would ask her master such a question.
Was she worried about the child?
I suddenly thought of the child named Rielle. The image of the child smiling prettily and the eyes that went up like a cat’s every time she smiled…
I looked up at Vielle. She looked similar to her.