After the handshake, I was told by June that she would lead me to Bright’s room on the second floor. We promptly left the room.
Naturally, Pochi was waiting for us at the entrance hall.
Her eyes sparkled, thinking how she might finally be released from her restriction… but the rest of us headed up the stairs without a word. Her reaction was the best thing I’d seen so far today.
“That is your Familiar, I presume? What is her name?”
“She is called Shiro.”
“Shiro… for ‘white’? Despite the majority of her fur being black? What an interesting choice.”
Yes, the doggo had chosen that of her own accord.
June’s remark was followed with dry laughter; I’d assume that she didn’t mean it much more than an extension of our greeting.
The second floor’s back corridor had six rooms, divided equally between the two sides; June and Bright stopped at the second pair of doors.
“Bright’s room is the second one to our left. The third room to our right is mine. Since you’ll be guarding Bright, I’ve arranged for you to occupy the first room to the left. The two rooms are connected with a door on the inside, so your job ought to be somewhat easier. No objections, I presume?”
Though I nodded in agreement, I did have something I must ask.
“Hmm? What is it?”
“Would it be possible to let Shiro into the room as well?”
June stopped dead on her tracks.
The look ‘Are you insane?’ on her face suggested that she was about to ask me that. Huh.
It looks like the bad feeling I’ve been having was right after all. This being the aristocrats’ house, I suppose it was only natural that they not let some random adventurer’s Familiar walk around the place. As far as I’m concerned, though, Pochi’s nose and ears would be a great help to my job… not to mention I’d like to avoid losing my pillow if possible.
My face was probably laying out all my thoughts to June, what with how she’s not saying anything. An awkward silence lingered for a while, until I had some unexpected rescue.
“Sister, I’d like to make that request for him as well.”
<“I’d like to request that, too, milady!”>
…Which were the words from young Bright and an echoing shout from downstairs. Bah… I’ll need to put the latter in her place later. Needless to say, the former’s request was more than enough. June, expression lightened, stooped down and patted Bright on his head.
“Oh, if you insist, Bright~~ Of course she can~~”
Seeing how abruptly and prominently June could break out of her slackless countenance, her eccentricity was established in my book from this point on.
I mean, Bright’s eyes did give off the adorable-ness appropriate for his age, but… Mana and Reid wouldn’t react toward Lina as strongly as June had toward her brother, for instance.
Wait… this boy… could he be-
My Familiar made her entrance through the room’s window with a totally unnecessary shout.
In the end, June had informed me that beasts weren’t allowed to walk around in the mansion itself, and that she would permit Pochi’s entrance to only my room through the garden-facing window.
So, yeah, the window is pretty much the only part of this mansion she’ll be going through.
As far as this era’s aristocrats were concerned, it was an exceedingly generous compromise for us to reach.
“Hey, remember not to shout in the mansion.”
“Oh, you heard that, sir?”
What in the blazes even made her think I wouldn’t hear that?
Now she’s winking and sticking out her tongue, trying to look cute… oh, what I wouldn’t give to pull it right out.
“So, the classes begin tomorrow, sir?”
“Yeah, but the bodyguard duty starts right away, so let me know if you detect any suspicious smell or sound.”
“Still, bodyguard… Does the Fulbright household have that many enemies, sir?”
“Maybe. Sir Alfred will be telling me about that later.”
“Master, check this out! It’s a king-size bed!”
Where’d her interest in the Fulbright’s enemies go?
“So fluffy! -Agh?!”
“Oog-! C-c-can’t breathe-!”
“You can’t just hog the bed to yourself, damn it! Your Master is still right here, for God’s sake!”
“Ahahaha! The bed is mine now! I’M KING!”
“Behave yourself, damn it! Tickletickletickle-!”
“Ngh- ahaha! Gah – tickletickletickle-“
“-Are you available, young man?”
Pochi and I froze over upon hearing that grumpy gentlemanly voice.
Unbeknownst to us, Alfred had opened the door, folded his arms behind him, and stood to wait for us right there.
I got down from the bed, while Pochi slipped under its frame. Looks like she’s having a hard time dealing with this old man… not that I wouldn’t want to hide, too.
“Ha ha ha… Yes, of course, sir.”
“You are now considered one among the manservants of House Fulbright. However, there are reasons for our Master’s order, and insistence on you occupying this room. Did I make myself clear, Sir Poer?”
I nodded; Alfred continued with a soured look,
“Very good. While the young man provides his services to House Fulbright, both of you will conduct yourselves with dignity.”
“Are you able to cover the whole estate with arcane energy?”
“It can be done, but considering the area, not constantly-“
“-Then do it whenever necessary, such as when you must operate away from the Young Master or while upholding personal hygiene routine. Now, what about when you sleep?”
“I’ll have Shiro-“
“Can she be trusted?”
“I thought we’ve already gone over this-“
“Listen. As a noble household, the Fulbright has relatively few enemies, and that is courtesy of our Master’s painstaking past and ongoing endeavors. However, that does not mean we are allowed to be negligent. I understand that an uneducated man such as you may not be aware, but there exist factions among the households that serve the Holy Emperor. Houses Fulbright and Adams are among the Traditionalists, and opposing them are the Reformists. The latter has seen increased activity ever since the beginning of the Devil King’s Fetal Stage. A number of the Traditionalists have suffered damage as a result. You must be cautious at all times.”
I see… so even before the Devil King fully comes into the picture, humanity has been stuck in a power struggle among themselves, too.
Oh, and now I finally remember.
This point in time was the era in which the Holy Emperor reigned. The years must still be within the Sacred Calendar, which would end a decade or so before my birth.
If I remember correctly, the change was due to the Holy Emperor’s illness and the successor’s death by natural causes… right. Perhaps this feud between the two factions was one of its causes.
“Meals are served at eight in the morning, noon, and eight in the afternoon. All will be delivered to this room after the Young Master has finished his meal; you and the dog will partake in turns. Arcane arts lessons for the Young Master will be held in two periods: in the morning from eight-fifty to eleven-thirty, and in the afternoon from twelve-fifty to six, during which assistance will be provided in the form of an attendant.”
“So if I need anything, I can ask her-“
“Not you. The attendant is for the Young Master.”
“Ah, of course-“
“Carry out your training sessions in the backyard. Do not neglect your bodyguard duties.”
“Then I will excuse myself now.”
“I… can’t deal with people like him, sir.”
“What a coincidence. I was thinking the same thing.”
~~Five O’clock in the Morning, Fifteenth Day of the Fifth Month, Hundred and Twentieth Year of the Sacred Calendar~~
Since June was leaving early in the morning, I went out to the garden along with young Bright, Alfred, and several other attendants to see her off.
Pochi was staying in bed out of spite, whining about how the dinner last night was nowhere near enough.
“Alfred, I leave the house in your care.”
“Yes, milady. May your journey be safe.”
“And Sir Poer, look after my brother…”
“He’s in good hands. Best wishes on your mission, milady.”
Young Bright stepped forward, his shoulders trembling.
“Sister, please take good care of yourself!”
“No need to worry, brother – it’s only one month. You take Sir Poer’s lessons seriously, understood?”
“Well then, I’ll be off now.”
Although June had no difficulty walking away, I’m sure that she would be missing her brother dearly as well.
Because, after all, her shoulders were trembling harder than Bright’s were.
I had thought that June would be leaving on a carriage, but someone as powerful as her wouldn’t need it… huh.
I suppose she’ll have to get on one if it was a summon from the Nation or something of the sort, though.
We looked on until June’s silhouette was completely out of sight, at which point I returned to my room – no. For some unknown reason, I’m feeling a pull on the edge of my mantle.
“It would be a waste of a good morning if we don’t get started with the lessons immediately, Sir Poer! I’m ready!”
Oh, just look at how his eyes are glittering with expectation and admiration toward the arcane arts.
Completely sympathizing with his feelings, I forced myself to work overtime right on the first day.