I began working after confirming that no one was in the lab. The Director and his secretary eventually arrived at work while I was taking my time.
I greeted them as they stopped at the entrance in a perfectly normal manner. The Director frowned when he saw the proposals stacked up in a row inside on the desk the partitioning screen.
“What is this all about?”
“I heard that you were busy, so I tried to make it easy for you to read with the little time you had.”
It was an absurd method, but his secretary threw me on the ground, so it’s payback.
I tried several times to talk to the Director again, but I couldn’t get through Irena at all. My back still ached from being continuously thrown onto the ground even though Rille-nee has been applying ointment on my back. What if I can’t walk anymore?
But the Director didn’t read the documents and ordered his secretary to put everything back to the way it was. Tsk.
Irena-san said in disgust as she strangled me on our way to the workshop.
“No means no. You should be smart enough to understand that, right?”
“Research is the birth of new knowledge! Hey, that really hurts!”
“Well, you won’t be able to talk anymore if I crush your throat.”
She’s so scary!
When we arrived at the workshop, Konrad-san was climbing into the window and Irena spoke to him as well.
“Kon-san, you have to teach your juniors properly, alright?”
Konrad-san froze like a frog being stared at by a snake and nodded awkwardly. Irena-san left without saying anything about him entering through the window.
Hmm, I need to get her away from the Director somehow.
“Konrad-san, don’t you want to take revenge?”
“Don’t drag me into this.”
He pleaded while looking like he was going to cry. He’s a spineless person.
You should try every method you can think of to reach your goal even if it isn’t good for you.
During lunch break, a dark-haired man stopped the beautiful woman from behind as she walked through the corridors of the institute.
“Like always, you’re as beautiful as the moon.”
“Thank you for your insincere compliment, Harold. You’re here today.”
Irena relaxed as she said this.
The two were both commoners and are relatively close in age. I don’t know what their relationship is.
“How have things been lately?”
“Things are going well except for one of your students’ causing problems.”
“She’s not like us. She doesn’t think she can swim through this world without making waves.”
“She’s the opposite of you.”
“I’m more normal. Who can live so shamelessly like that?”
I don’t believe it’s good to be excited about bad-mouthing people.
I don’t care what you say about me at this point, but I wish you would stop talking and just go away.
“What are you doing over there?”
I quickly silenced Merry who had suddenly spoken to me from behind.
I’m currently hiding behind the education department’s partitioning screen.
Merry, who had just returned from teaching practice, squatted down beside me.
“Harold-sensei and the Director’s secretary? Why are you spying on them?”
“Keep quiet. I’m trying to put a plan into action. We’ll get thrown on the ground if they see you.”
“… So, you’re acting like an idiot again.”
Merry rested her face on her chin in exasperation. What do you mean again?!
The adults kept talking in the meantime.
“By the way, where is your Master?”
“He’s having lunch in the cafeteria. Did you need him for something?”
“I was thinking about inviting the secretary who is tired from dealing with a little girl out to lunch, but I’m not sure if I need the Master’s permission or not.”
“Oh my,” Irena raised her voice in surprise.
“Don’t you feel like eating the commoners’ stinky food once in a while?”
“It’s rare for you to treat me to something.”
Irena paused and glanced behind her.
Then Harold-sensei immediately said, “She went outside to do some shopping. I also asked her to do something for me, so she won’t be back for a while.”
Irena was probably going to keep an eye on me to make sure I didn’t bombard the Director while he was taking his break. She really had her guard up against me.
“――― Then, let’s go before you change your mind.”
She took the bait.
Irena-san let her guard down, probably because she has known Harold-sensei for a long time. This is only for today, but I thank you for your smooth talking.
I watched the two of them disappear completely and stepped out from the partitioning screen.
“Bye Merry~. Sorry for bothering you.”
“Are you not busy?”
“I’m not playing around!”
I said to my rude friend and dashed to the cafeteria.
Konrad-san had no backbone, so I reluctantly asked Harold-sensei to lay this honeytrap for me.
I asked him because I’ve heard rumours of their relationship. I really didn’t want to owe him anything, but I’ll do everything in my power to get what I want.
Half of the employees went out for lunch and the other half ate in the cafeteria. The people who work in the institute weren’t allowed to go out of the capital, but they can go anywhere they want outside of the palace.
The Director was sitting alone at the end of a long table, away from the other employees, and was eating his meal in silence.
“Sorry, can I have this seat?”
I sat down at the same time he looked up and spread my proposal on the table.
“Please take a look at these while you eat, and listen to what I have to say, otherwise we’ll meet in front of your residence next time.”
I came up with a serious idea while discussing things with Master and that was to go to his house. I may look like a stalker if I do this, but that is how serious this is.
The Director stopped eating and looked down at me with cold eyes.
“You know what I will say.”
“It would be a failure to give up without trying. See this, according to our calculations, the lamp will last for ten years even if you use the smallest magic stone in the palace. It is easier to use than candles or torches. Why don’t you start by installing them at the gates?”
Let’s try a different approach if distributing them to the people is a bad idea. First, we need them to recognise that the magic stones can be used outside of the military.
“They can help prevent crime if we place them on the streets as streetlights. Wouldn’t these things contribute to national defence? Lamps have other uses as well.”
I turned the paper over and showed a blueprint of a square room that I had drawn. The Director’s gaze fell onto it at one point.
“What is this?”
“It’s called a ‘greenhouse’”.”
It was an idea that had flickered in my mind when Master told me about lamps.
“Simply put, it’s like cultivating a field inside a house. You can get a certain yield by exposing your crops to light in this greenhouse even if it’s difficult to grow them or the weather is bad. The light from candles and oil lamps isn’t enough for a greenhouse, but the white light from a magic stone can allow us to build greenhouses. Greenhouses would be useful in places with severe cold climates with little sunlight.”
It would be a perfect artificial weather room if the temperature and humidity can be controlled. Greenhouses would also be of great use in research.
This is a revolutionary invention. It can be used to produce food which is necessary for living.
The Director put down his fork and touched the proposal that I rewrote and added to each time he rejected it. He seemed a little more interested in it. I just need to push one more time.
But then his gaze and hand left the paper.
“… Is that a no?”
I could attract his interest for only a moment.
My disappointment was greater than before since I had a little hope.
“You must have accomplishments if you want to have an opinion. No one will listen to those who have done nothing.”
Is he telling me that my lowly position isn’t good enough? But I wanted to argue with that.
They even disregarded what Master had to say. The Director from 20 years ago might not have been like this, but I’m sure he was the same as he is now.
A finger was thrusted between my eyes just as I opened my mouth to complain.
For some reason, I thought it was the edge of a sword and the words disappeared from my mouth.
“Go to El Valley.”
The Director said.
What does that mean? I searched frantically in my mind and remembered that it was the name of a place.
It was the name of a mining town in the western part of Traus Kingdom near the border with Galesh Kingdom where magic stones are mined.
“Be good at the job you’ve been given and earn people’s trust. Without that, the words you say have no weight.”
I felt like I was being admonished in a calm voice but wait— — — !
… Am I being demoted?
Did I overdo it? ――― I almost regretted it.
My mind stopped working because I was suddenly told to go to a remote place.
But I found out that I was demoted after lunch when I stood in front of the Director’s desk and asked him about what he was talking about.
“There is a pandemic in El Valley and the areas surrounding it.”
Or maybe it was worse than being demoted.
“The Princess’s wedding has been postponed because of this. People hope that this situation will be resolved soon.”
About a year has passed since the announcement of Princess Philia’s engagement and after all the discussions have been completed, Princess Philia was supposed to depart Traus Kingdom soon.
But a plague had broken out in the area that was on her route and she hasn’t been able to depart.
She could travel by sea, but her departure wouldn’t be a joyous event since the people are suffering from illness.
The date of her wedding will depend on the situation but for now, they have decided to wait and see how the situation will go, and Galesh Kingdom has agreed to postpone the wedding.
I understand what is going on.
But why is the Director talking to me about this right now?
“There has been a rumour going around for a while now. People are saying that the plague that broke out in El Alley may have been caused by a magic stone.”
“… Are you saying that magic power is having an adverse effect on the human body?”
It’s possible since it’s an inexplicable power… I wanted to say.
“That’s not possible.”
Any mage would declare this.
A magic stone cannot emit mana in any way until a mage casts the opening spell.
It is impossible for mana to leak out from mined magic stones as long as that is its principle, and I know firsthand that principles are never wrong.
“You’re right. It’s not possible.”
The Director agreed with me, but…
People who aren’t mages could care less about that.
“We have been notified to send a mage to El Alley to investigate whether mana is leaking out from the magic stones to assure the people. So, you will go there, Aime.”
I don’t object to taking all possible measures to investigate thoroughly.
But why use a green kid who has only been working here for four months for such an important job? And I’ll be going alone as. What kind of joke is this? I was told that I would have a guard, but that’s not the point.
But the Director’s expression never changed.
“It’s impossible for mana to leak out of magic stones. Every mage would have a short life span if mana was harmful to the body, but mages don’t have short lives. The same can be said for soldiers who possess magic tools. The people just want reassurance. They just want to hear it from someone who has investigated this in front of them. We don’t need to send out heaps of people for that.”
“Having a kid like me do it wouldn’t raise concern?”
It was easy to check if mana is leaking out just by standing next to it, but having a 14-year-old girl come and tell you that is well, you know…
“It is reported that the plague is more prevalent among the elderly, so it was decided that I would select and dispatch as many young people as possible.”
… I would certainly be the most suitable person for the job by that logic. Just because it’s more prevalent in the elderly doesn’t mean that young people will be alright!
Even if the magic stones aren’t the cause, I would first need to inspect the pollution in the mines and if it is an infectious disease then it’s possible that I can die!
“We will dispatch young people to the other mines where people have expressed their disbelief. You will not be alone.”
But I’m the one going to the most dangerous place.
Is it because I’m a commoner? Or is it because I’m bothering you a lot even though I’m just a newcomer?
Whatever the reason, it doesn’t change the fact that somebody has to go.
Then, I’ll go.
I don’t want to go, but I know it’s a dangerous place so I can’t tell someone else to go.
I’ll probably be fine, probably. I’m healthy. I believe I have a stronger resistance to disease than nobles who look pale all year round.
“――― Alright. I’ll go.”
Hearing my resolve, the Director finally said, “People judge people based on their past conduct and decide whether to accept their claims when they don’t know that person. This time, you will be showing your patriotism and work ethic by personally going to the place where the plague is spreading.”
Really…? I just don’t have any other choice, and while I may wish for world peace, I’m not patriotic.
But maybe this was his way of showing me his support.
He listened to me earlier without interrupting me, and he read through my proposal even if he only skimmed through it.
Maybe we weren’t just having the same arguments repeatedly.
Perhaps he was providing me with an opportunity to get more people to listen to me.
If this person, who didn’t even show a hint of a smile when Master proposed this to him in the past, is the Director then perhaps he has changed.