It’s morning. The ground is dappled with spots of sunlight weaving through the leaves, and I hear the chirping of unfamiliar birds.
I iron my lady’s uniform, carefully brushing off errant specks of dust from the fabric, and I hang it outside the closet.
The pot full of water I placed on the stove (which uses magic stones as fuel) is beginning to boil now. As I listen to the bubbling water, I take out the magic stone from the magitech iron and use the leftover heat to iron the newspaper ink in place.
Paper technology in this world has been developed and popularized enough to be used to make newspaper, albeit the quality still leaves quite a lot to be desired. The paper I have in my hand is just a thin gossip rag for nobility, but milady is a noble. She’ll need it.
Next, I slice off a few pieces from a hunk of salted pig carcass and drop them onto a heated frying pan. As the fat begins to ooze out of the slices of dead meat, I crack open the shell of some unborn creature to drop a viscous glob full of protein into the pan. To finish, I take a lump of kneaded-and-baked carbohydrate and lightly toast it in the oven, then place everything onto white tableware while I wait for the brown rotten leaves to release their color into the hot water.
My, it looks like the smell of burning dead flesh has woken lady Sharon.
As milady crawls out of bed, I set the glob of fat-covered protein and the lump of carbohydrate onto a serving cart and push it in front of her.
“Good morning, lady Sharon. How are you feeling?”
“… mwaah… ‘morning…” Milady greets me with her adorable voice as she rises from the bed, her nose twitching and her eyes still bleary.
She looks toward the window for a few moments. Then she jolts, doing a double-take at me.
“…eh? Wha?! H-how are you here?!”
It seems milady has finally become aware of reality.
“Of course, that is because I am your maid, lady Sharon.”
“Uh, yeah, of course… no, that’s not what I’m asking!”
Milady retorts with so much energy I’m sure she’d have a bright future as a comedian. Oh, but she hasn’t needed to worry. I know what she means.
“Yes, the window over there—”
“EEEEEEEHHH?! THIS IS THE THIRD FLOOR!”
“—was my original plan, but I didn’t think I could enter without breaking the lock, so I asked the dorm mother to lend me the key.”
This magic academy is a boarding school. Lady Sharon is a daughter of a marquis, which makes her high nobility. It’s why she has a private room on the third and highest floor.
While the female dorm has a dining hall and a large public bath, this room also has its own bathtub, toilet, kitchenette, and basically every other things one needs to live. It’s perfect for my lady, considering how withdrawn she is.
From now on, she’ll never have to eat alone again.
“…did you just think something weird?”
“I would never.” I instantly reply without showing a hint of guilt. Milady believes me, it seems.
“Umm… so, you’re…”
Lady Sharon speaks, sounding hesitant. Then she opens her mouth again, this time seeming more confident.
“Yes, lady Sharon.”
Milady’s finally called me by name! I release 100% of my aura in a beaming smile as I reply, and milady shows a hint of redness on her cheeks and ears.
“Y-yeah…” She says, looking away from me in embarrassment. She sits back down on the edge of the bed, her négligée-clad body in full view of me, completely defenseless.
It seems the shock has completely erased what I said yesterday from her mind, about letting me touch her chest.
…I smirk. Just. As. Planned.
“Which reminds me, Letty… are you sure coming to my place was a good idea? I thought his highness Joel had said that the Partner explanation was moved to today instead…”
That’s right. That lout was the one to have butted in between me and my lady before I could swear my oath of loyalty to her.
He was the one to have kicked me into a guest room and forced me to stay there as he spoke some drivel about “allowing the others a chance to introduce themselves” and “deciding a Partner after the orientation”.
Us summoned students did get some knights following us around in the shadow as bodyguards-slash-watchers. However, I am a Maid. I wouldn’t be stopped by such trivialities.
“In my wish to serve you, I have snuck out to come here first thing in the morning. I am lady Sharon’s maid, after all.”
“I-I see…” Milady answers, trying and utterly failing to sound nonchalant, her fingers twirling in embarrassment.
Milady does look the type to have few friends, after all…
“Oh, yes, I have taken the liberty to make breakfast from the ingredients in the kitchen. I am not aware of milady’s taste, so please forgive me if milady finds it too simple.”
I pretend to not have heard the sounds of her stomach. Instead, I take off the cover of the serving cart and set the dishes.
“Waaahh…” she says, her eyes glittering, “bacon and eggs, a croissant… there’s even black tea and the newspaper! Did you do all this, Letty?”
Right, that’s the name of the stuff. I don’t exactly eat, so I only remember them as ‘rotten leaves’ or ‘dead flesh’.
“I asked the dining hall to share with me some of their freshly-baked croissants. I made the rest with the ingredients in the kitchen, although the tea was something I got from the dorm mother. It came from her secret stash, she said.”
“The dorm mother?! But she’s so strict…”
The dorm mother is a woman in her forties who’s very intense in her speech, but I was very sincere in my request, and so she was happy to give me the tea and the key.
My lady gives her praise after she has had a taste.
…it’s such a simple meal, and she’s devouring it. How has she been eating all this time?
“I knew it, she has no friends…”
“What did you just say?” Hearing my whisper, lady Sharon gives a piercing gaze toward me with her eyebrows raised.
My, it seems I lost control of my mouth again. I’ll have to fool her somehow.
“Oh no, milady, it isn’t what you think. I was just thinking that not wearing underwear when you sleep is also a cause of sagging, and that right now your sleepwear is making two little ‘tents’—oof!”
“W-WHAT ARE YOU SAYING?!”
Lady Sharon blushes crimson as she throws her slipper at my face, interrupting me.
Looks like I’ve succeeded in distracting her. All’s well that ends well.
After the meal, I’m now helping milady to dress herself. Lady Sharon looks at me in puzzlement.
“By the way, Letty…”
“Yes, what is it?”
Despite her former fluster at my sexual harassment-I mean, my words of caution, once it was time to change, she didn’t even balk at showing me her hefty melons. Nobles are such strange people.
“…where did you get that outfit?”
Looks like lady Sharon is curious about the high-quality maid uniform I’ve been wearing since morning.
“I may be the second son of a count, but my uncle has promised me a piece of his territory…”
It’s now the morning class hours of the magic academy. Instead of teaching, the school is using the time for orientation, wherein the summoner students would introduce themselves to us Partner candidates.
All of us are right in the middle of our budding years of puberty, when we begin to take notice of the other sex. Boys are looking at girls and girls at boys, their gazes passionate upon finding someone they like.
“L-listen up, people, I-I am the first daughter of a marquis!”
I wonder if lady Sharon’s nervous. She’s being very high-handed in both attitude and gestures, yet still stealing glances at me all the while. And so before I know it, I was already giving her a standing ovation and shouting “Bravo!”. Which made me the target of a lot of glares, so I’m forced to — very reluctantly, I must add — stop myself.
“I’ve heard you introducing yourself as Fleurety. Be my Partner!”
Karl, the one who got scolded yesterday by the knight that was his brother, declares, calling me by name and staring at me quite intensely. A hushed commotion instantly starts up among the nobles, while some of the love-struck girls in my class sigh dreamily.
I suppose some people do like the high-and-mighty type, but someone with no interest would just find him really annoying.
Which is why I just smile at Karl and give him a thumbs-down. The nobles just tilt their head in confusion at the gesture, while several in my middle-school class cough as they fail to completely contain their amusement.
Only Eric Marsaw, one of the instructors of the academy, seems to have realized what I meant. He hastily changes the subject.
“W-well, let’s leave the talking for later, no need to choose right away. We should see what Skill everyone who were summoned this time have first.”
The ‘humans’ summoned into this world — in other words, people from Earth — would receive powerful magic upon the summoning. It happens because people from Earth don’t have magic.
What, you don’t understand? Goodness. Fine then, I shall elaborate.
This world is filled with ‘mana’. There’s mana in the air, in the water, even in the earth. The people of this world breathe the air, drink the water, and eat the food grown from the soil, subsequently increasing the ‘magic power’ they have in their body.
Children born from people with strong magic would have more magic from the start. Countries were founded by the really powerful people with strong magic, which was how the noble caste was created.
Mana is the source of magic power and at the same time, a kind of nutrient. Increased magic power also leads to increased physical strength, allowing one to learn the skills to fight against monsters.
But Earth has no mana. Or to be more precise, Earth now barely has any mana left, which resulted in the people no longer possessing magic power.
All life is supposed to possess magic power, yet the creatures of Earth have survived for over a thousand years without any.
Imagine people used to living on high-altitude regions with little oxygen who were then sent to lower ground. The humans of Earth would then begin to rapidly absorb mana like a sponge in water and turn into what were practically superhumans.
The end. Explanation done.
Oh yes, we were talking about Skills, weren’t we. Of course I remember.
Creatures with magic on this world are affected by how they spend their time, their preferences, and in turn they would gain special abilities (which are, in fact, a kind of natural magic) that are called Skills.
People summoned from Earth will be gaining Skills when their minds are already mature, which apparently often results in them gaining useful Skills.
And to help people understand their power more easily, a magitool to read and display one’s own Skills as words has been developed. Apparently that’s what we’ll be using today.
This world is very complete, isn’t it? Very convenient.
“Now, please take turns and place your hand on this crystal ball.” Instructor Eric says.
The middle-school students begin to form a line, their expressions showing both nervousness and excitement.
“Then I’ll go first…”
Looks like we’re starting from Sei.
The boy stands in front of the ball, somewhat tense from being the first, and his finger touches the surface. Bright letters begin to appear inside the ball.
[Light Magic Aptitude] [Holy Aura] [Divine Blessing] [Martial Arts Talent] [Foreign Tongue]
A chorus of oohs and aahs comes from the people of the academy.
“Is this… good?”
“It is. A human always get from two to four Skills, but I rarely see someone with so many useful Skills.”
The instructor continues into an explanation, which I’ll summarize as follows: normal people mostly have Skills related to their livelihood, such as [Cooking Aptitude] or [Farming Aptitude] or [Increased Walking Speed]. People with magical or combat Skills are rare.
After Sei, other students are also shown to possess many practical and fantastic Skills such as [Healing Magic Aptitude], [Automatic Mapping], [Regeneration], and etcetera.
Hao, one of the two students that act as the leaders of the boys with the other being Sei, his best friend, is also notable for his Skills: [Flight], [Increased Physical Speed], [Wind Magic Aptitude], [Eagle Eye], [Foreign Tongue]. The nobles’ eyes lit up in sheer excitement.
“So the last person would be…” Instructor Eric says, prompting everyone to look at me, standing alone and quite obviously given a wide berth. My, how strange. I don’t recall doing anything particularly eye-catching…
I leisurely walk forward. Instructor Eric looks as though he wants to say something.
“What might be on your mind, sir?”
“Umm, well… I was wondering why you’re dressed in clothes of a servant’s…”
“That is because I am a maid.”
My answer didn’t please him, it seems. I pay him no mind.
I walk up and nonchalantly brush a finger on the crystal ball. The shining words appear…
[The Amazing Maid]
Nobody says anything for quite some time.
I think I know what this is. It must be that thing where people like to tack ‘amazing’, ‘incredible’, or ‘fantastic’ onto their titles all the time, right?
I smile, completely satisfied by the results of my Skill identification. The room ceases its silence as a commotion breaks out.
“Could it be a composite Skill?”
“Am I the only one who notices she has the word ‘The’ in her Skill?”
“Hold on, how in the world is she understanding the language without [Foreign Tongue]?!”
“Did she make that expensive-looking servant uniform by herself too?!”
Answering the academy people’s confusion, I pinch the sides of my uniform’s skirt that extends all the way to my ankles, and I smile a telling smile that gives nothing away.
“That would be a maiden’s secret.”
I continue to be enigmatic until the end of the orientation. Everyone leaves for their own dorm rooms, looking weirdly tired. I wonder why?
“A moment please, sir Eric Marsaw. What would become of my and lady Sharon’s Partner contract?”
“Oh, yes, there’s that too…”
Instructor Eric replies, making a bit of a face. Lady Sharon’s shoulders twitch. She’s been trying to listen to us.
“Ah, but before that, I just want to tell you that I’m only of low nobility. You can just call me ‘teacher’ or ‘instructor’.”
“So about the contract with miss Sharon… well, how about this. Somebody might make a fuss if we make it official right away, so let’s go with a tentative contract. You two will be ‘provisional Partners’ for the moment. I don’t think they’ll complain at that.”
“Thank you very much.”
It’s rather galling that we can’t become Partners straight away, but at least this way I won’t need to sneak around to stay with lady Sharon.
Milady continues to act nonchalant, though I can see her skipping a little bit on our way back to the dorm. So cute.
But just before I could follow, instructor Eric calls.
“What is it, instructor?” I reply, not bothering to hide my faint displeasure at the interference to my time with lady Sharon. Instructor Eric shrinks back a bit but continues to speak, his voice almost a whisper.
“Be careful. Your strange Skill has both turned away some people and attracted the attention of some others. Watch for those around miss Sharon…”
“…I understand, instructor.”
I leave for lady Sharon. Several shadows follow behind me, silently, avoiding attention as they come closer and closer.