I narrowed my eyes at Mercy, who then flinched.
Mercy’s eyes grew wide as she feigned innocence. Then, she asked.
“Is there a problem?”
“…Mercy, I heard that you met the Prince yesterday.”
“Yes, we met…”
“Did he tell you to come with me?”
Mercy clamped her lips together, as if she was chewing on thick honey. She didn’t seem to think that she’d get caught like this.
She ruffled her hair and messed it up.
“To be exact, His Majesty just said that you want to learn magic.”
Mercy sighed and murmured.
“And among the people I know, I’m the one who can teach magic the best.”
There’s a reason I became the tower lord, of course. Mercy continued, her face overflowing with pride.
“And it’s true that I feel apologetic towards His Majesty, so I want to redeem myself by doing this. I’ll teach you well. Intensely, too.”
With Mercy vowing like this, I couldn’t possibly say no. In the end, I had no choice but to allow it.
“…I’ll be in your care.”
Mercy grabbed my hand and shook it.
Her bright smile was filled with youthful enthusiasm.
“I heard that you’re leaving in about two weeks… Right?”
At Mercy’s question, I nodded.
“That’s right. But before that, Mercy, can you come shopping with me around the capital?”
I wanted to prepare a present before leaving Albert’s side.
I’ve received so much from him until now, and it’s always on the back of my mind that I gave too little back.
As I scanned the styles of the dresses here today, I thought that Mercy would be a great help while I choose a gift.
I wasn’t even thinking of the price. After all, I’m a woman who’s about to have her own fiefdom. Not only did my dream of becoming a landlady get fulfilled, but even the pension that I so want.
Just thinking about all the money I’d be spending thrilled me. At the heart of capitalism, money always makes the world go round.
Wasn’t it an essential human trait to feel cathartic when spending money?
“Whenever you’re free, Mercy. I’ll probably spend most of my time here even after I’m given my title.”
Thinking hard, Mercy furrowed her brows.
“How about next Monday? There’s something I need to do this week.”
“Yes, that’s fine.”
Next week wasn’t too bad. As if she was sorry that she couldn’t go right away, Mercy pouted.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t go with you sooner. I’ve been putting it off for a while now, so I can’t push it back anymore…”
“If it’s something like that, then of course you have to do it.”
Hearing my response, Mercy’s face turned pale.
“Right? I hesitated for a long time, but I need to finish it for real this time. I definitely need to let go of all the pain I’ve been suffering through all this time.”
Mercy smiled crookedly. Seeing her smile like this strangely brought chills down my back.
* * *
After putting on a dress with Mercy’s help, I appeared in front of Albert and the nobles. Then, I was bestowed my title.
Through his testimony and the testimonies of the soldiers around the tower at that time, my merits were proven. In response, the nobles—who seemed to already have first-hand experience of Albert’s might—all nodded in agreement.
Some of the people here were also the nobles who laughed and chatted at Rosteratu’s party before.
Even if it’s just a simple event like how I wanted it to be, the peerage bestowal ceremony ended so quickly.
A fleeting thought crossed my mind that Albert might have shortened the process for me.
After I received my title, I left the king’s audience chamber. I was about to follow an attendant back to the palace, but I soon ran into Liam in the hallway.
“I’ve come to talk to you.”
It did seem like he was going to come visit sooner or later. After Liam waved him away, the attendant retreated.
He led me into a room. The moment I sat down, Liam immediately opened his mouth.
“I’ll be straight with you. His Majesty knows exactly what we’re trying to do.”
“I know that he’s not the kind of person who’d be fooled, but…”
Liam sighed and looked much more tired today compared to when he was fighting yesterday.
Mercy’s gaunt features from earlier overlapped with Liam’s. Albert was so competent that his retainers were suffering.
Still, this wasn’t surprising at all since I already knew about it. Albert himself told me.
“You’re not surprised.”
“I’ve been expecting it. And the Prince told me.”
While staring at me, Liam continued.
“You were given a title and an estate.”
“Yes, it’s a beautiful estate along with a beach in the south…!”
Thinking about the territorial documents made me a little overwhelmed earlier. But now, it was hitting me. I had an estate of my own.
Not just land, but a fortress, too. Even though Albert’s going to attach a person who’s going to manage it for me.
“It’s far from the capital, yes.”
After I said that, Liam started laughing like a madman. It wasn’t out of genuine glee, but more like a sardonic laugh.
What’s up with him?
I had a growing hunch that he’s actually crazy. Liam had his face covered with both hands, but after a while, he looked up and asked seriously.
“…Do you like snow?”
“It seems like His Majesty is trying to get me as far away as possible from you, judging by the territory he granted to me. Mine is closer to the capital than the south, but…”
“Is it a cold place?”
“…Not just cold. It’s a beautiful place where snowflakes bloom like flowers all year round.”
So it’s a place even colder than Liam’s already cold ducal estate. The mere thought made my body tremble.
With an ant-sized voice, I asked.
“Can’t it be in the south?”
Liam answered me firmly. What do you mean, not anymore?! So was it originally possible?
“Most of the population of the south mostly stay in the coastal areas,” Liam explained. “Among the estates there, yours is small, but there’s a constant supply of seafood. It’s a famous place that makes a lot of profit.”
“After taking your post as the new fief lord and showing your face… No matter where you are, His Majesty is going to know exactly where you are through rumors—right away.”
After Liam explained with a low voice, I realized what he was saying.
Even if Albert said that he’s going to let me go, he had no intention of doing that at all. Liam’s explanation was a more merciful way of saying that I’d have a difficult time getting away from Albert at all.
In the meantime, I felt a little apologetic towards Liam because I asked his help in trying to get me away from Albert.
Let’s just say that I’ll be experiencing something unusual for a month.
With Mercy’s help, I’ll be improving my magical skills, and regardless of where it is, I’ll go to the Dragon’s Nest and come back.
In the end, after one month, it’s decided that my temporary residence would be at a village located at the northern end.
Comments for chapter "Chapter 156"
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