I thought I didn’t need to sleep any more. I wondered if it was because I was shapeshifting or because I was Ranking Up, but I saw dreams of those days again, after such a long time.
Really, I thought it was time I got over them already…
“Hey, Shedy. Wake up!”
…bwha? My consciousness awakened in a hurry. Information of the outside world flooded into my head.
“…why are you here?”
“That’s my line.”
I still had my hood on. My ears should still be hidden for the time being.
I stayed seated, knees still hugged, and looked up. Within the clattering freight car, I saw Tiz standing there as if he owned the whole world, looking down at me. The pompous man was wearing clothes much fancier than what he had on when we first parted.
Standing behind and to his left was a silver-haired old man in butler clothing. He was holding a lantern, his eyes gazing sharply at me.
Behind and to Tiz’s right was a woman in knight uniform with black hair in a ponytail, looking in her twenties. A sword radiating faint magical light was in her hand. She held it in an alert stance, her eyes glaring with obvious hostility.
“So it seems she’s truly your acquaintance, boy. Who is this girl?”
“Stop it with the ‘boy’ already, gramps. She helped me out when I was trying to get in town. So, Shedy, why are you here? Talk.”
It wasn’t an interrogation, so much as it was just Tiz having fun in trying to drive me into a corner, especially as he was drawing near.
“Umm…” I started thinking about how to answer.
Then all of a sudden, the knight barged in between us. “Sir, don’t come any closer!” She turned to me, “Speak! You must be an assassin hired by some other noble, aren’t you?! If you won’t confess, perhaps some torture will-”
“Salia, cease at once! I’m talking to Shedy here. Stay out!”
Tiz’s roar was enough to drown out even the train’s clattering for a moment. The knight started and shrank back, flustered. Her face went pale. She bit her lips in discontent and glared daggers at me.
Seeing her response, Tiz scowled. He sighed, his hands scratching his head, and he turned to the butler.
“Gramps, I’ll take her to the guest room. Handle the formalities for me.”
The butler simply bowed, his eyebrows raising a fraction as the only sign of his thoughts. He handed the lantern over to one of the attending knights behind him and readily left the cargo room.
“Sir, you mustn’t! We can’t trust her!”
“Salia, shut up. Shedy, come on.”
I had thought he was a noble. Apparently he was a much bigger shot than I imagined.
I didn’t know how he managed to discover my presence on the train so easily. I couldn’t continue to stay in this room anyway, so I quietly stood up and followed him.
As we got out of the freight car, I realized it was morning already.
It felt like it’d been a long time since I’d seen the light. As I squinted my eyes, the annoying knight woman behind me moved just a step closer. She was grinding her teeth and glaring at me, her sword still unsheathed. She whispered.
“Don’t think you’ve won, little bitch…”
She lost her balance in the shaking train, but managed to put her hand on the wall and stabilized herself before she could fall… huh, so she rode that out. Well, whatever. Doing this was a waste of magic in the first place.
The knight woman… Salia, right? Her face turned scarlet from the near-miss. She finally seemed to have realized the danger of leaving her sword out and sheathed it, her foot stamping at the mark that the tip of the blade left on the train floor, trying to hide it. Let’s tattle to the conductor later.
The freight car was at the tail end of the train, and apparently Tiz’s group was riding the car right in front of it. I saw knights and maids attending as pairs, bowing to Tiz as he walked through the corridor. Looked like he was exactly the ‘other country’s noble’ that I heard about.
One car was for 24 people. Each person’s ticket fare was 5 small golds. So renting out a whole car would cost 12 large gold coins…
Spending 24 large gold coins for a round trip ticket to go hunting just because he was bored. What deep pockets Tiz had. Other than the guest room, I even saw doors leading to what looked like the toilet and the shower. This sort of train ride was a first for me.
Tiz kept on going and entered the guest room, right around the middle of the car. I followed behind him. Salia went in last, then stood in front of the door. The room was approximately 14 square meters. The butler back then was already there, preparing tea.
“Shedy, sit in front of me.”
My casual reply earned me another scathing wave of bloodlust from Salia.
Tiz sat on the single sofa chair in the corner of the room. I moved to sit on the three-seater sofa opposite him. Just as I did, the butler started pouring tea for the two of us.
“Come on, talk.”
“First off, how did you know I was there?”
“I did! God had granted me the ability of Presence Detection to prevent danger from coming upon my lord!” Salia cut in, still not yet learning her lesson.
So that meant she was a Child of God, too? That was how she found me? Okay, I understood that part, but then why did Tiz come? Don’t you normally call the train conductor if you think you’ve found something suspicious?
Turned out Children of God were surprisingly common. Or maybe their abilities were exactly what brought them to serving nobles.
But enough of my musings. Tiz’s face was already starting to look veiny from her repeated interruptions.
The butler attempted to cool things down. “Ahem. Lady Salia, our young lord is still speaking.”
“I wanted to see the auction in the capital.” Things weren’t going anywhere, so I admitted my motive. Tiz looked triumphant for a moment, which immediately changed into disbelief as he leaned back on the sofa.
“What, so you wanted to see the auction so much you snuck on the train to get my help?”
“I told you I’m going to the auction too, didn’t I?”
“I didn’t know you were on this train, Tiz.”
“Cease your lies! You’re obviously here to cheat money out of my lord by using his generous compassion! Filthy plebeian, what other trickery-”
“I have money.”
I tapped a large gold coin on the table to shut up Salia’s yapping, attracting everyone’s sight. “I was going to buy a ticket, but then I found out some noble had already rented out the whole car.”
I stared at Tiz in protest. He simply looked amused, and his cocky attitude rose another notch.
“That’s not a problem, then. Gramps, sell one of the car’s seats to Shedy here. That makes you an official passenger now. Be grateful.”
Problem solved, but I wondered why I didn’t feel even a bit of gratitude…
“Boy, that’s fine and all… but why are you helping her? It’s true your return was a fortunate happening. However, had you not repay her already?”
Salia vigorously nodded at the butler’s words. I was wondering that myself. Why was he trying to get involved with me so much?
Under the same gazes from three different people, Tiz put on a toothy, savage grin.
“Because she’ll be my girl. Why else?”
Damn it Salia, my ears. I was dumbfounded, the harpy behind me was shrieking, and the butler just rubbed his forehead in exasperation. He fixed his glare on Tiz.
“Boy, the girl’s still a kid, what in the world are you thinking… I admit, she has quite fair features, but there is no lack of beautiful women for you to choose from. What about the young lady of Count Soel?”
“The girl I got set up a meeting with? Hah, the woman just kept demanding luxuries. I only scared her a little bit and already she was running away in tears, saying I’m ‘terrible’ or something.”
That was terrible. For both of them. In many ways.
“While Shedy here doesn’t even blink an eye! Very impudent, or perhaps I should say she’s got guts. I like that. Gotta be less cold though, girl!”
Screw you, I don’t need your opinion.
“And besides, her age isn’t a problem, just give her three or four more years… hmm? Shedy, did you grow?”
“You’re just imagining.”
He wasn’t actually imagining it. My Rank-up changed a few things about me.
[Shedy] [Race: Mistral] [Lesser Demon (High-Rank)] ・The demon of bewitching mist that dances upon the northern seas. A canny spiritual lifeform. [Magic Points: 1065/1100] 165↑ [Total Combat Power: 1175/1210] 182↑ [Unique Skill: <Reroll> <Cyber-Manipulation> ] [Racial Skill: Fear] [Simple Identification] [Humanoid Form (Master)] [Specialist Packer]
(Low-Rank) was now (High-Rank). I gained quite a bit of magic and combat power.
With [Packer] going from ‘Expert’ to ‘Specialist’, my storage capacity took a leap. My intuition told me that I was no longer limited to solid objects like before; I could store fluids now.
And with [Humanoid Form] getting from ‘Adept’ to ‘Master’, the texture and feel of my skin was now no longer distinguishable from a real human’s, even when examined up close. My skin and hair looked so smooth and glossy I felt like I just went into a beauty salon.
Next, and perhaps the most mysterious part: my body of a ten-year-old had grown another 5 centimeters, and I was no longer just a smooth, flat cylinder. I had gained just a tiny bit of a curve.
It felt like I had finally managed to return to my real age of eleven, I supposed?
“Really? Well, whatever. Your looks won’t be a problem after another two or three years anyway. Look, gramps. Even among the ladies of nobility, you almost never see skin this white.”
That’s because I was albinic.
“Honestly it made me wonder if she had blue blood underneath instead.”
I couldn’t even deny that. I was a demon, after all.
“I thought that if we can meet again a few years later, coincidentally or not, I’ll be whisking her off. I never expected our reunion to be this early. Fate must be telling me to make her mine.”
No, I hadn’t heard anything from this ‘fate’ whatever person.
Salia froze in disbelief. The butler started up his forehead-rubbing again. This time, he turned to me.
“Lady Shedy. May I hear your thoughts?”
So I noticed the butler had started to use ‘lady’ instead of just calling me ‘girl’ now. Is he giving up already? Just how indulgent was Tiz normally?
“No thanks. I’m grateful you didn’t tell on my smuggling, but I’ll go my own way once we get to the capital.”
My clear-cut refusal got Salia beaming, the butler faintly sighing, and Tiz smirking. He leaned forward.
“The auction’s two days later. Shedy, do you have the entry qualifications?”
“Trestan Kingdom’s auction is a very prominent event, on the same level as the Trading Confederation of Deulx. Extremely stringent security. They don’t let anyone they don’t trust inside. Normal attendees would have to have lived within Trestan for at least half a year and paid 10 large golds as deposit just to get in. Do you meet even one of those conditions? You wanted to see the auction so much you snuck on the train, right? My servants would be able to get in just fine, just so you know.”
So dirty. Adults were so dirty.
“Oh, don’t worry, that’s not me hitting on you. You’re a Packer, aren’t you? You’ll just be my baggage carrier. How about it?”
If I had more leeway until the auction, I could try to steal the stone. But apparently, the security was extremely strict. And unfortunately, I didn’t have the necessary intel to sneak past the surveillance. There was one thing for certain, however: No. 17’s magic stone would be revealed upon the auction day.
Twenty-three days of borrowed time left. I wouldn’t give up.
“Alright, that’s a deal. Gramps, handle her clothes! Make sure she’s fit to walk beside me!”
…I was regretting this already.
Author’s Note: And there’s the “be mine” declaration lol
By the way, Tiz has a few girls that might be generously called ‘his lovers’. He’s not a pedo. His strike zone’s just wide, from 15 all the way to 35.
Children of God are around one-in-a-thousand. The chance of encountering one of them is about the same as seeing someone on TV in your town. Just as it’s easier to see them near the capital, so can they often be found in the company of nobles.
Salia’s [Presence Detection] consumes a lot of magic, so she can only use it once morning comes.