In the back alley behind Sea Anemone, Tianna spoke at length about the time she met her master.
Sometimes she would laugh as she remembered something, and her unintentionally girlish expression soothed Nick’s heart.
“My master wasn’t really like a noble… He wouldn’t rely on servants most of the time, and he would stay locked up in his office instead of going home from time to time. At some point I had to start helping him clean.”
“…That’s a little different from the image I had of him in my mind.”
Said Nick, and Tianna giggled.
“He doesn’t feel like a noble when he’s amongst nobles, but he sure does here in the Labyrinth City. He’s a little strange anywhere he goes.”
“I don’t dislike people that stay firm like that.”
“He has always been an understanding person…”
Tianna sighed with some gloom on her face.
Nick thought what Tianna said felt off. When he spoke to Bellocchio, he found him to be earnest and stubborn. Someone with a strong will, who would do anything to attain his goals.
He did not feel like someone free and easygoing who placed much importance on the will of his students.
“…It is strange.”
“Ou, I was looking for you. You’re training here?”
That was when someone called out to Nick and Tianna.
A sorcerer with frizzy blonde hair, who was Nick’s friend, but also his enemy in this match.
Nick and Willy were not just adventurers, they were also both fans of idols.
They had been going to Agate’s concert’s together, and at that point, it could be said they were friends.
“No hard feelings right? I know this is turning into something kind of weird.”
“It’s fine. But moving from party to party as a helper is kind of a weird way to work.”
“It can’t be helped, two of our old party members got married and retired. Me and Marcus had no choice but to keep going as a duo.”
“So, are you here to scout out the enemy?
Said Tianna sarcastically.
“Yes, that’s half of it.”
Nick and Tianna stared at Willy, not expecting him to casually admit it.
“I’m mostly here to give you a message from master Bellocchio.”
Nick became a bit nervous, but Tianna was not bothered. Instead, she asked a question.
“Master Bellocchio…? You call him that too?”
“Yes. I’ve been telling him about what it’s like to be an adventurer nowadays, and I asked him to teach me magic and he accepted.”
“I see… So we’re both his pupils then.”
“It’s a pleasure, big sister.”
“Big what? Who are you calling big sister!?”
“Everyone calls you that, especially the one’s that like going to the dragon races and casinos. They say stuff I don’t really get with respect like ‘it feels nice to see her gamble’ and ‘she’s becoming a master at playing’.”
Nick barely contained a burst of laughter.
Tianna glared at Nick, who unconsciously apologized.
Tianna sighed, before realizing something and starting to tremble.
“…Does master Bellocchio know about this?”
Willy struggled to answer, which was basically an answer in and of itself.
Tianna was very troubled to hear this, and startled mumbling and grumbling.
Nick tried his hardest once again not to laugh, as he watched this noble girl behaving like a child having a tantrum.
Willy, bewildered, cleared his throat.
“I get how you feel but… I think I should say why I’m here already.”
“Ah, yes, your message.”
“Master Bellocchio wants to meet you, Tianna.”
“Just the two of us?”
“He wants to hear how you’re doing, and says you don’t have to worry about him making any demands or anything.”
Nick was suspicious.
“He also asked me to apologize to you. He said the way he got upset was unbecoming of his age.”
“…What a weird old man.”
“He really is strange.”
Unlike Tianna, a former noble expelled from home, Bellocchio should still be a noble. He had no reason to apologize to Nick, especially considering the latter’s rude attitude.
He probably just did not care about those things to begin with.
“…So? What are you going to do?”
Tianna looked troubled, and peeked over at Nick.
“…I think it’s fine. We all got worked up, so I think it’s good if you can sit down and speak calmly.”
“But before a match?”
“The match is the match. We just have to win.”
Said Nick, and Tianna giggled.
“You’re full of confidence uh?”
“I’ve conquered Thousand Sword Peak a few times.”
“I see… But keep one thing in mind Nick.”
“You were in Argus’ All Martial Arts right? That means Thousand Sword Peak was probably not a big deal for you.”
“Then you don’t know how a party that relies on the back line is going to do it. Right?”
“…What are you trying to say?”
Willy smiled boldly at Nick’s question.
“It’s a warning. You’re strong, anyone can see that based on what you guys have done, but still… Don’t get careless or you might get the rug pulled from under you.”
“Why that is, is a secret. Well then Tianna, master Bellocchio is staying in the lodging house of a magic research facility in the northeast. It’s called Thunderbolt Company, and you’ll know where it is when you get there.”
Said Willy before dashingly leaving.
“What a bold guy…”
“Acting all cool when just the other day he got tricked into buying unofficial idol merchandise.”
“I don’t want to hear about that.”
Tianna smiled and shrugged, thinking they were both hopeless.
“See you later.”
“Be careful… Are you sure you don’t want me to go with you?”
“I’m not a child.”
Tianna followed the instructions and chose to go see Bellocchio by herself.
She wiped the sweat off her body and changed into her usual robe, looking once again like a noble young lady.
“But thanks. I haven’t been to the north in a while, so I’ll bring you something from there.”
“No, it’s fine. It’s not like you’re going there for fun.”
“Well, this sort of thing is right up Karan’s alley.”
Nick saw Tianna leave, and realized he had nothing to do.
The other members of his party were training in the Goblin Forest.
The sun was still high in the sky, and Nick was not debauched enough to go to a bar or tavern so early.
He would forget his moderation and self-restraint when it came to idols, but aside from that, he did not have many hobbies to pass the time on his own.
“…I guess I’ll go replenish my tools.”
He decided to do some chores.
While laughing at himself for being a workaholic, Nick went to a place called hammer alley, that was filled with blacksmiths and stores where people could buy tools.
If the southeast was a slum and the northwest was for the rich and the nobles, the southwest was for regular people. People not poor enough to worry about whether or not they would have food to eat the next day, but also not rich enough to always be thinking about how to spend money in politics.
Merchants that dealt in relatively expensive items, workers making daily necessities, and workers working in fairly disciplined workplaces.
There were stores aimed at adventurers near the adventurer guilds, but many people burned themselves trying to take care of all they needed in nearby stores. Adventurers did not need qualifications as long as they formed a party. So, many merchants targeted their wallets. Wallets of those were not adept at making and handling money to live.
Because of this, Nick tended to avoid the stores around the guilds, and instead made his way to hammer alley many times. He would not get ripped off or get involved with weird people there.
“Oh? What a coincidence. Do you want to have some tea with me?”
This meant that the person throwing this invitation at him was not just some weird person.
It was Alice from the Order of the Sun, with her usual fresh smile.