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Ain and the others were taken to Oz’s room, which was filled with bookshelves and a sofa for guests in the center. At the back of the room, a desk stacked with miscellaneous materials caught Ain’s attention.
When Ain turned his attention to the bookshelves on the wall, he noticed several glass cases containing magic stones.
“Please have a seat.”
At Oz’s urging, Ain and Katima sat down on the sofa. Chris and Dill stood behind them as guards.
“My name is Oz. My main field of study is magic stone energetics, and I’m researching the energy of magic stones.”
Ain had heard about it from Katima before coming to this room. The researcher sitting in front of him right now, Oz, is a leading expert on magic stones. Even in the great country of Ishtalika, he is considered an irreplaceable talent.
“──I believe it was in Majolica-san’s letter of introduction, but let me introduce myself; my name is Ain.”
Then Ain pulled down the hood of the robe he was wearing.
“Welcome, Your Royal Highness, Crown Prince Ain. I apologize for only referring to you as an ‘important guest’ earlier. As there were others present, I withheld the contents of Professor Emeritus Majolica’s letter of introduction.”
“I think that was the right thing to do. Thank you for your concern.”
I’m glad to hear it, Oz said with a slight smile.
“Then why don’t you introduce yourselves as well… I don’t think that I should be the one to do it, so can you three do it yourselves?”
He thought he should let Katima do that first, but then she looked at Chris.
Then Chris followed Ain’s lead and pulled down her hood.
“Then I’ll do it first. My name is Christina Wernstein. I am the marshal of the Knight Order of Ishtalika. Pleased to make your acquaintance.”
“I am Dill Glacier. I have been assigned as an apprentice guard to Ain-sama.”
He also pulled down the hood of the robe he was wearing.
“I am Katima von Ishtalika-nya. It is a great honor to meet the renowned Professor Oz-nya.”
She spoke gracefully like a princess or a young lady of high society. She stood up quickly and greeted him by performing a courtesy with the clothes she was wearing.
“Katima-san? Why are you acting like a princess?”
“Ain-sama! Ain-sama! In fact, Katima-sama is the first princess!”
“No, Chris-san, that Katima-san…”
He thought he saw a blue vein on Katima’s face as if she didn’t like the fact that he interrupted her greeting. But of course, Ain is not concerned about that.
“Ooh! I never thought I’d be able to meet Your Highness, the First Princess, the brains of the royal capital!”
“His Majesty has given me permission to help my nephew, Ain-nya. This is a rare opportunity for me to come to Ist, and I hope to learn many things from you-nya.”
“I wish you the same! Oh, I beg your pardon, Your Royal Highness. As someone who does research for a living, I just…”
“No, no. You can talk to Katima-san later.”
Katima will be happy.
Ain replied to Oz in a somewhat throwaway manner, as if abandoning his responsibility to care for her.
“Now… it is time to get down to business. Your Highness, I was told that you need my help.”
“Yes. As for the details…”
There are two main things that he told Oz. The first is about Ain’s physical condition, and the second is about the Red Fox race.
When listening to the story, Oz’s expression changed several times, revealing his surprise. As a researcher, it was hard not to be fascinated, especially by Ain’s constitution.
“What a lot of interesting things. Especially His Highness Ain’s constitution.”
He looked down for a moment, troubled, then looked up and fixed his glasses.
“…I now understand why Professor Emeritus introduced you to me. The Red Fox and His Highness’ constitution. I think I’m more qualified than anyone else.”
Oz is, after all, a leading researcher of magic stones.
“No, even so, there are many things that concern me. It’s not only Dullahan’s magic stone but also Elder Lich’s magic stone that has been absorbed… Please wait a moment. I’ll show you something interesting.”
He stood up and approached the glass case by the wall. It’s the one that contains the magic stone that Ain just saw earlier.
“Professor Oz, what is it?”
“Don’t worry, Christina-sama. Here’s another seal made by Professor Emeritus Majolica. The power of the magic stone will not go out of control.”
Ain smiled bitterly at Oz’s answer.
In the past, he had broken the seal with the power of the Elder Lich during the Sea Dragon incident, so he couldn’t let his guard down, no matter how much Majolica’s seal was in place.
Chris seemed to feel the same way and prepared herself lightly.
Oz soon brought in a small, luxuriously carved box.
“This box contains the information Your Highness is seeking.”
“The information I seek…?”
As Ain was wondering, Oz opened the case.
Two magic stones were revealed from the inside, and their purplish, flame-like pattern was poisonous to the eye. There was no scent to tickle Ain’s nostrils.
“This is a treasured item.”
Chris sensed it before anyone else with the words.
She suddenly took Ain’s hands in both of hers and squeezed tightly.
“I’m sorry, Ain-sama. Please stay here for a moment.”
The guard squeezed the hand of the person he was serving. Oz was surprised, but Chris’s sharp eyes urged him to continue.
“This is the magic stone of the Red Fox.”
Then Ain said, “I see.” He understood why Chris had grabbed his hand.
She could feel the tension in Chris’s unusually heated hand. He wondered if Elder Lich was holding Dullahan back in his own body. He chuckled, hoping that the couple wouldn’t fight.
“This is quite a valuable item again, isn’t it?”
Ain said, and Oz nodded.
“Professor Oz, I would like to ask you to help me with my body, but I would also like to know the results of your research on the Red Fox. Of course, I will pay you handsomely.”
“No problem at all, but there’s no need for a reward either.”
“In fact, I was also able to hear something valuable from Your Highness Ain. So, I would like to thank you for that. However, I would like you to give me a few days to compile the data regarding the Red Fox.”
“No, I, as the crown prince, am afraid to make a request without compensation. Chris-san, isn’t that right?”
“It’s as Ain-sama says. We don’t want to be misunderstood as having exercised our authority improperly.”
“Oya, that’s indeed… Fumu…”
“It’s not limited to money. Is there anything I can do to assist you?”
After Oz had crossed his arms for a few tens of seconds, he had an idea.
“Then, I have a little problem that I need your help with. As I’m sure you know, there have been several cases of young children being kidnapped here in Ist.”
That’s what Chris had said at Majolica’s store.
“Although it seems to be limited to orphans from the slums, it’s still a heartbreaking case. What do you think? I was hoping that Your Highness Ain would ask for more knights to search for the culprit.”
Is this man a saint or something? What an altruistic man Oz is, Ain thought, impressed by his words.
“I understand. I’ll let the knight know, and we’ll work together to investigate.”
And with those words, the other four were startled.
“Eh…uh um, Ain-sama? Even though I’m by your side, I can’t let you do anything dangerous…”
“Chris-san. If you say that, there are dangers in the Sea Dragon and Red Fox investigations as well…”
“It’s not the same story! It’s a matter whether Ain-sama needs to move or not!”
That’s right, according to what she said. His sense of justice and his own desire to repay Oz in some way got the better of him, but he regretted that he had gone too far.
“Hmm, but it’s not like I’m not going to do anything.”
Then Ain thought back to what Oz had said just a moment ago.
“Well then, maybe I’ll help Professor Oz for a few days until he compiles the data on the Red Fox.”
It was a compromise, but Chris was unsure.
“Since it’s Ain-sama, I think it’s better to have him move than to suppress him…”
“Wow, that really shows how you feel about me regularly.”
“That’s the way it is. Even in the first year of school, even if I stopped, you did not stop.”
Unable to offer any counterargument, Ain closed his mouth.
“Professor Oz. Ain-sama will cooperate with you for a few days from today. After that, the knights will continue their investigation. Is that okay with you?”
“Of course! However, Your Highness Ain himself should not…”
“It’s not like I can just wait at the inn in silence, so please don’t worry about it.”
Rather than giving up, Chris concluded that it would be better if she just protects him. Also, she muttered to herself, “If we want to investigate, we should avoid places with few people.”
“Your Highness, please be careful. I will contact you about the Red Fox in a few days.”
As soon as Oz finished, he went to his desk and picked up a stack of papers.
“This is a document that may be of some help to you regarding Your Highness’ condition. I will give it to you and hope you will take the time to read through it. I also remember a few other things, so I’ll give them to you along with the Red Fox’s documents.”
“Oh! Thank you very much!”
After thanking him, Ain immediately looked at the clock in the room.
…It’s already evening.
“I have to excuse myself for today. Thanks for taking the time to help me today.”
“It has been a pleasure. Now, I’ll show you the way out.”
“No problem. I don’t want to be a burden to you.”
“I will send the guard to escort you out. Please put on your robes. And…”
Oz went to his desk again, opened a locked drawer, and took out a leather envelope.
“Here are some old research materials on Ist that should be buried in the dark. Perhaps it will give you some insight into Your Highness’ physical problems.”
“For such a thing… T-thank you!”
Seeing that Ain was about to bow down, Oz restrained him with his hand.
“It’s not a problem. I’m glad to have met Your Highness and listened to your precious words.”
Oz rang the bell, and the guard from earlier appeared.
“Excuse me, are you calling me?”
“Please escort the guests out; they are leaving.”
“Understood. But, I have a letter for you, professor.”
The guard handed Oz a letter and turned to Ain.
“I’ll show you out.”
After the guard, Ain and the others left Oz’s room.
Oz, who had seen them off to the end, opened the letter after the door was closed.
“…It’s about time, after all.”
He muttered with a sigh and extended his index finger, adjusting his glasses languidly.
On the way back to the inn.
As Ain was walking along the streets of Ist, he noticed a line of several carriages. As soon as he thought that it was quite a large group, the carriage stopped on the street in front of a building a little further on.
“No, I apologize for asking the chairman to come himself.”
A man who looked like a merchant appeared from the building, and as he approached the carriage and spoke to it, someone Ain knew appeared from the lead carriage.
“It’s all right. I believe in checking things out for myself.”
Graff August, Krone’s grandfather.
While the two were conversing, August’s trading company members entered the building, returned outside with wooden boxes in their hands, and loaded them onto a carriage.
“It was an honor to do business with the rising August Trading Company. All the magic stones you ordered are already in the wooden boxes. If you need more, just let me know.”
“Umu, it was a good deal.”
“Will they be delivered to the Tower of Wisdom?”
“Hahaha! I’m not at liberty to talk about my work, but I’m sure they’ll notice if I have a lot of magic stones here.”
“Haha, that was a bit out of line. I hope you enjoy the city of Ist for a while.”
When Ain saw Graff’s transaction, he refrained from talking to him.
First of all, it would be outrageous to talk to Graff while he was at work since he was currently acting in hiding.
Chris, who was also watching, spoke to Ain.
“As expected of the August Trading Company. I can’t believe they’ve already expanded their market to Ist.”
“It’s amazing. Even though it’s only been a few years.”
“Warren-sama recognizes Graff-dono’s skill, and from my point of view, I’m also happy that we were able to reduce Heim’s national power.”
Chris’s cheeks lifted cutely.
After that, Ain’s group quietly walked past Graff and headed for the inn.