Zero no Tsukaima:Side Story Volume2 Story5

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Side Story 5: Tabitha and the Gambler[edit]

The gentle light of the twin moons shone over Tristain Academy of Magic.

On the second floor of the main tower of this ancient academy, the aristocratic students and teachers were holding a ball.

It was the Ball of Frigg.

The ball with the name of a goddess is held every spring on the first night of the month Eir. It was a dance attended by all the teachers and students in order to build up their relationships with each other.

According to legend, a couple that dances together at this ball will always be together. Therefore, all the boys were asking the girls they fancied for a dance; the girls too were stealing looks at the men they liked under their eyelashes.

A boy had been rejected by the girl from whom he asked for a dance. He was leaning against the wall in sadness.

A beautiful girl, surrounded by a crowd of boys, was looking affectionately at a boy conversing in the distance. But, it looked like he hadn’t noticed her.

However, amid this busy party, there was also a girl who was isolated from everyone.

She was Tabitha.

With short, blue hair and eyes so bright blue that they were almost transparent, she could be recognized as a great beauty upon close examination. However, she has two traits that caused all of the boys to ignore her.

The first one was her childish figure.

At the height of 140cm and dressed in a black evening gown, she looked younger than a child of fifteen. More importantly, her prepubescent body made her uninteresting, both as a dance partner and as a lover.

The other was her personality.

Tabitha rarely ever talked. She kept her mouth shut as tightly as if she deeply believed that speech didn’t exist.

She wouldn’t respond at all, even if someone did talk to her. Because everyone knew this fact, even if there did exist aristocrats who were captivated by the charm of Tabitha the loli, they knew that they’d be rejected if they asked her for a dance. Since there was no noble who wouldn’t be unhappy over a rejection, no one bothered to ask her. [TL note: If everyone who asked her out were a pedo, then of course she should reject them all]

As a result, Tabitha did what she always did at dances: quietly engage in a battle with the food.

“Aren’t you going to dance?"

A woman with flaming red hair appeared, followed by a herd of boys attracted by her bewitching body.

It was Kirche.

Tabitha nodded lightly without glancing at her friend.

“Really! Tonight’s heroes are we who captured Fouquet. How can you not show a trace of happiness?”

The previous day, Tabitha & co. caught the aristocratic thief called Fouquet the Crumbling Earth. Due to their achievement in catching the famous female thief who stole the Staff of Destruction from the school, the Principal of the Academy, Osman, remarked, “You’re the main characters at the ball tonight.”

“Everyone here has the right to enjoy the ball! Look, even that stubborn Louise is dancing. Ah, let’s ignore the fact that her dance partner is her familiar.”

Kriche pointed to a corner of the hall. A pink-haired girl and a black-haired youth were dancing as they blushed. The dark-haired youth was repeating his clumsy dance steps, but the pink-haired girl uncomplainingly matched him with graceful steps.

“Really, he’s so…he just said that he’d dance with me…how frustrating.”

Although that’s what she said, she did not appear to be frustrated at all. Even though Kirche did in fact tell the youth named Saito, “I love you!” and caused quite a bit of commotion as a result, it seemed like the statement wasn’t heartfelt. As Kirche and the pink-haired girl were…on very bad terms, it was quite possible that she had just wanted to steal the girl’s boyfriend.

No, Tabitha was not interested at all in what was going on between the two. Kirche narrowed her eyes and put her arms around Tabitha’s shoulder.

“Do you understand? This is an order from a friend. In short, you have to enjoy a dance once in a while. You’re not doing anything besides eating, right? I’ll find a partner for you…just wait here.”

Kirche disappeared into the crowd after kissing Tabitha on the cheek. The boys who surrounded her all this time chased after her. Tabitha was left by herself again; she reached for the plate of salad.

At this moment…

Amid the noises of the ball, a mail-bearing owl flew in through the window. The grey owl flew straight towards Tabitha, landing on her shoulder.

Tabitha’s expression stiffened slightly. She took the letter from the foot of the owl. On it was written only one sentence, “You are summoned.”

Tabitha’s emotionless eyes glowed with a certain light, a light that was a blending of a wide variety of emotions. She immediately headed for the vacant balcony.

Tabitha whistled as she leaped onto the railing. At almost the same time, the flapping of huge wings was heard; Tabitha jumped down from the railing and disappeared into the night.

“Tabitha~, I brought over some back-ups. You can pick one that you like…,eh?”

Kirche brought back about a dozen dance partner candidates for Tabitha to the table, but she found that Tabitha had already gone.

“Where did she run off to?”

Kirche searched all around, but nowhere could she find a trace of the blue-haired girl.

“Really, that girl, she disappears whenever something like this happens.”

* * *

South of Tristain, in the largest nation in Halkeginia, lays Gallia’s capital city Lutèce.

At a corner of the magnificent Versailles Palace, built in the suburbs outside the capital, there was a small, pretty pink-walled palace.

In the palace called Petit Trois, its mistress was extending her neck while waiting for a visitor.

“Has not the puppet girl arrived yet?” Asked a voice that lacked benevolence. It was Isabelle, daughter of King Joseph of Gallia.

She is a beautiful girl with blue eyes and blue hair that extended to her waist, but her beauty was completely cancelled out by the malicious smile on her face.

The young girl-servant was obviously afraid of the bad-tempered princess, but she remained by the bedside, stuttering, “She should be, she’ll be here soon…”

“How boring, let’s gamble.”

The servant who was the target of Isabella’s sentence gasped and edged back a couple of steps.

“If that puppet girl appears in ten minutes, you win. If she doesn’t, I win. How’s that?”

The servant was shaking harder and harder. Isabella’s face showed a careless smile; rubbing the servant’s face with her wand, she said, “If I lose, I’ll make you a noble. I’ll help you get a couple of titles of nobility.”

The girl-servant shook even harder, so that it seemed almost as if she was thrashing about.

“However, if you lose…, I will have your head.”

Right when the servant girl was going to collapse, a guard entered, ran to Isabella, whispered something in her ear, and was rewarded with a disinterested grunt.

From under the shadow of the doorway walked out none other than Tabitha. Seeing the black evening dress on Tabitha, Isabella once again showed a malicious smile.

“I rarely see you wear that.”

Tabitha did not reply. She merely stood there, awaiting her orders. Isabella lazily picked up a scroll of sheepskin from the desk and tossed it to Tabitha.

Tabitha caught the scroll, bowed lightly, and turned to leave the room.

“Wait.”

Isabella got out of bed, and walked up to Tabitha to toy with her evening dress. [TL note: why does the princess always do things that are so easily misunderstood to Tabitha?]

“It’s a pretty decent dress, not the type you can buy on the streets. You didn’t steal it, did you?”

“Was my mother’s.”

Isabella’s face instantly stiffened. But it recovered immediately.

“In order to practice for this assignment, why don’t you play with me first?”

Even though she said that, Tabitha hadn’t yet seen the contents of this time’s assignment. But Isabella disregarded that and took a coin from her pocket.

She tossed it into the air, and then pressed it on the back of her hand.

“Faces or tails? If you guess right, I’ll give you a hundred crowns. If you guess wrong, your dress belongs to me. Do you accept?”

Tabitha was gazing at Isabella’s hand all this time…, but she still shook her head.

“Ahaha! You really are cowardly.”

Isabella started laughing as though she was really happy, pointing her finger at Tabitha’s face.

“I really can’t understand how someone who has so little courage and talent like you could execute the duties of a Knight of the North Flower Garden. Ahaha! Aha…”

In midst of her laughter, Isabella suddenly noticed Tabitha’s eyes. Those extraordinarily cold, ice-like eyes. Eyes so clear that they seemed to be able to suck out the soul of the beholder…Isabella was deeply fascinated by them, and at the same time felt a mysterious pressure; the laughter died in her throat. Obviously, Tabitha’s eyes were the exact same shade of blue as her own…, but then, why would those eyes be as much deeper than hers as the sea is deeper than a drop of water?

Isabella took a deep breath of air, forcefully recovered her majestic façade, and looked at Tabitha in defiance.

“Bah. I’ll directly explain your new assignment this time. Your job is to go to the casino on Belcôté Boulevard, where they are skillfully taking money from the idiot aristocrats. Although sending in gendarmes to directly destroy that place is an option, many nobles would be involved in a scandal if we did so. Therefore, we can’t publicly shut it down. That’s why we need you to do it. Destroy the arrogant casino. Reveal all of their trickeries."

“…”

“This is completely different from fighting monsters and savages. Even if you’re somewhat decent at fighting, there’s nothing you can do this time.”

Isabella finally smiled. Next, she threw a bag of coins at Tabitha’s feet.

“Here, it’s the budget for the assignment.”

Tabitha emotionlessly picked up the bag.

“At the casino, your identity is Margaret, the second daughter of de Shelvon family. Understand?”

Tabitha bowed and left as soon as Isabella was done talking.

* * *

Gallia’s capital, Lugus, located in the northeast of the Middle Province, is centered at Lugus Square and filled with prosperous streets.

Among the prosperous streets, there is an east-west road: that is Belcôté Boulevard. The boulevard was full of high-class shops targeted at nobles and rich commoners. Tailors, hotels, jewelry shops, restaurants…, it had everything.

Amid them was a very distinct pair of master and servant.

We are of course talking about Tabitha and the transformed Sylphid.

“Sis, you look very cute today too! It really makes Sylphid happy! Gao!” [TL note: first the princess, and now…et tu, Sylphid?]

Sylphid, dressed in a white maid’s dress and leather boots, was happily calling, “gao, gao.” Tabitha, on the other hand, was wearing the male-style clothes that were recently the rage among noblewomen.

A blue riding suit, accompanied by knee-length boots. A high top-hat.

The child-figured Tabitha looked just like a young man in this attire. Bearing the huge magic wand on her back, Tabitha was silently marching forward.

Sylphid was holding a parasol on her part, walking half a step behind Tabitha to block out the sunlight. They looked just like an aristocratic lady who came shopping with her servant.

“Ah, Sis, what’s the job this time? Since we can walk on the street dressed like this, it seems like it isn’t a difficult assignment. Gao.”

The overjoyed Sylphid started singing.

“That’s to say~. No one will get hurt~. So happy~. Will have good things to eat. La la, la—la—la—”

Sylphid started singing in a sublime tone; Tabitha scolded her in a low voice, “Be quiet.”

“But, I’m very bored. Besides, I have to wear such uncomfortable cloths. If Sis doesn’t want Sylphid to sing, you should just explain our task this time! Gao!”

Sylphid was shaking her master’s head.

“You wouldn’t understand.”

Tabitha coldly replied, Sylphid got angry.

“I hope you don’t think of me as an idiot! No matter what, I’m descended from a most ancient race. I’m different from humans in the very essence. You, you, you would think of me as an idiot anyways! You are looking down on Sylphid’s intelligence! Unforgivable! Gao, gao!"

The people passing by stared at Sylphid in surprise.

Tabitha lifted her staff, and knocked Sylphid’s head with a “ping”.

“Ouch, it hurts!”

“Quiet.”

Noticing the stares of the people around them, Sylphid hurriedly put on a matter-of-fact expression.

“What I said just now was a dialogue I saw in a play yesterday. Gao.”

If it was made known that Sylphid was a wind rhyme dragon changed into human form, there would be a huge panic. Tabitha silently rapped Sylphid with her staff, punishing her. [TL note: no Freudian analysis of this sentence, please.]

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I won’t talk anymore. Gao! Gao, gao!”

After the commotion, the person and the animal finally arrived at a jewelry shop. The store had large, wood-framed, glass windows and an entrance hall lined with luxurious cabinets.

Inside the cabinets were displayed all sorts of precious stones set in gold, silver, or platinum, gleaming on top of necklaces, rings, and earrings. Sylphid, who really loved beautiful things, leaned on the glass case and started crying out, “Uwaa! It really is beautiful! Sylphid wants some too! Gao, gao!”

Tabitha completely ignored Sylphid and walked into the store.

The shop was very spacious, and packed full of magically made cases of glass containing precious stones. However, Tabitha did not display any interest in the gems, walking straight to the back of the store. Inside a cleverly-made display case, a gigantic blue diamond was sparkling. Seeing that Tabitha had been looking at the blue diamond for some time, the shopkeeper walked up to her.

After arranging his glossy hair, the sharp-eyed young shopkeeper respectively bowed to Tabitha.

“Welcome. Miss, what would you like to look at today?”

Tabitha pointed at the blue diamond in the display case, “This.”

The shopkeeper shook his head, “I’m very sorry, Miss. This gem isn’t for sale.”

“I want this one,” Tabitha repeated. A light flashed in the shopkeeper’s eyes.

“This is worth twenty million new gold…”

For a single gemstone, it was an astronomical price. It would be equivalent to the total assets of an aristocrat famed for his wealth.

Even so, Tabitha still nodded lightly, “Sold.”

The shopkeeper said without excitement, “Then, would you please give me the down payment?”

Tabitha put three pieces of copper without saying anything. This was an amount that would usually make the shopkeeper cry out, “What kind of joke is this?”

“I have received it. Now, please come this way…”

The shopkeeper broke into a smile, and walked in the front to lead the way. Passing through the curtain into the backroom, the shopkeeper pulled on a rope in front of a large shelf.

The magical machinery started up, and the shelf creaked aside, revealing a wide door.

The shopkeeper opened the door, inside of which was a set of steps spiraling underground. Tabitha walked down the stairs.

At the end of the ladder, there was a huge door of iron with a small reception desk beside it.

The doorkeepers standing besides the door bowed to Tabitha as she appeared. The black-clothed receptionist standing in front of the desk said respectfully to Tabitha, “Welcome, noble customer. Now, please, leave your magic staff in our keeping.”

Sylphid, who was standing a little aside, looked worriedly at Tabitha. The magic staff is the magician’s life. Without that, they wouldn’t be able to chant any magic. The act of yielding the magic staff would make the Knight of the Northern Flower Garden, Tabitha the Snowy Wind, into a normal girl.

Tabitha unhesitatingly gave the magic staff to the receptionist.

After carefully wrapping the staff up with linen, the receptionist smiled lightly, and made a sign to the doorkeepers.

The doorkeepers opened the door, and from inside poured dazzling light, noise of people, and the smell of wine and tobacco.

“Welcome to the underground entertainment center, ‘Heaven’.”

As soon as Tabitha entered through the door, a scantily clad woman leaned against her. It seemed like she was there especially to take care of customers, “Ah! You’re so small! Little boy, who are you here with?” [TL note: Small? I’d hope so, if she’s talking about ‘that’.]

Tabitha shook her head.

The woman indecently hugged Tabitha’s head, “Aiya, looking carefully, I see that you’re a girl! Are you a mademoiselle from some merchant family? No matter what, this isn’t a place for children!” [TL note: if it were Louise, the whole place would have exploded by now.]

The woman was calling out like that when a fat man walked out. He seemed like he was in his forties. Even though he looked like a good-tempered businessman, there was no amusement in his eyes.

“Idiot. Don’t mix up a mademoiselle from a noble family and a girl from a merchant family.”

After the man had cursed at the woman, he walked over.

“I apologize for the rudeness of our servant. I am the owner of this casino, Jeremiah.”

Tabitha did not pay any attention to the man in front of her, looking around on her own. There were all kinds of gambling going on there. Dice, cards, roulette…gathered in front of the tables were the rich. Among them were some that smiled freely as they were being served by the barmaids, and some that curled up under the table after losing a lot of money in one go…, such tragedies and comedies were being played out all over the place.

“Why did we build such a casino underground? I think you want to ask that by your expression? It isn’t much for people in my trade, we are able to interpret our customers’ expressions.”

The man Jeremiah continued, “As you know, it is legal to open casinos, but there must be a limit in the amount being bet. But, in this casino, for the satisfaction of the rich merchants and famed aristocrats, we do not set a limit on the bets. As a consequence, we have to secretly conduct the operation underground. However, we are very happy to serve noble customers like you, Mademoiselle.

The man lowered his head in the next moment, “For a casino, safety comes first; for the sake of caution, would you please tell me your name?”

Tabitha gave out her pseudonym in response, “de Shelvon family’s second daughter, Margaret.”

“Thank you very much, Madamoiselle Margaret. What game would you like to play today?”

“That.”

The table that Tabitha walked up to was gambling using dice.

The rules are very simple. Three dice are tossed, and the guess is on whether the sum was large or small. Tabitha had of course exchanged the gold into tokens, and started gambling. Sylphid was slightly interested and watched the game from behind Tabitha.

The first time, Tabitha put down one token.

“When you’re betting, don’t put down so little. It wouldn’t be fun unless you bet a lot at a time.”

Tabitha did not speak, but only watched the dice on the plate.

The numbers that came out were 3, 1, 4.

It was “small”. Tabitha bet on “large”. So the token Tabitha bet was collected by the dealer.

“Ahh! You lost! But, it’s only one token, so it wasn’t a large loss!”

It seemed as if Sylphid expressed the expressions of joy and sorrow to the results of the gamble in place of Tabitha.

Although…, despite the fact that the tokens lost were few, the lowest stake was one piece of new gold. It’s a casino with very high stakes.

Tabitha silently continued on betting. Sylphid was getting anxious.

“Um, Sis. Shouldn’t you take a break now? Look, you lost again. I, Sylphid, am on the verge of passing out.”

Out of the fourteen games, Tabitha won no more than two or three.

But, during the fifteenth game…, a light flashed through the eyes of Tabitha that were focused on the dealer’s hands.

Tabitha suddenly made a large bet of about thirty new gold coins.

The numbers on the dice were six, four, and three.

It was “large.”

The tokens in front of Tabitha piled up.

Sylphid, too, happily hopped around, “Sis, you’re so good! Gao, gao!”

As she said this, Sylphid hugged Tabitha’s head and rubbed Tabitha’s cheeks against her own. Tabitha again made a few small bets, followed by a large bet; through the repetitions, the tokens in front of her increased steadily.

Several hours later…

There was a small mountain of tokens piled in front of Tabitha. The value was approximately several thousand new gold coins.

* * *

Sylphid, who had been staring at the mountain of tokens all this time, said, “I’ll give it a try,” and picked up a few tokens and left. But she didn’t know the rules at all, and therefore came back after losing all of the tokens in a few moments.

But the loss she incurred was wholly insignificant. The other customers crowded around to see the little girl who won so much money. Every time Tabitha won a bet, cheers would erupt around her.

A young, long-haired handsome young man radiating the smell of cologne sat down besides Tabitha. He gently smiled, “Milady, you’re very good at this. Would you like to drink something?”

The surrounding noblewomen started making disgruntled noises. It seems like this young man was a popular waiter at this casino.

His long, silver hair was slightly parted to show his narrow eyes. Although his gaze was sharp as a dagger, it also contained a very kindly light. This gave him a very charismatic look.

“My name is Toma and I am responsible for serving the customers. Have we met somewhere before…”

Sylphid suspiciously looked at the young man, and quietly said to Tabitha, “sis, this guy, he’s making a move on sis.”

“Why would I make a move on her?” Toma started smiling. “I only felt I was attracted by this lady, so I came over intending to know her better.” [TL note: I don’t get the difference, but maybe it’s because of the translation I translated from.]

“Champagne.”

After nodding in affirmation, Toma walked away.

“Sis!” Sylphid hugged Tabitha’s head and shook it back and forth, “ today I Sylphid must say this. It is true that I have told you, sis, that you should ‘get a boyfriend.’. Therefore, I can understand you becoming interested in men. Rather, I should say I’m glad of it. However, that man isn’t ok! He gives off a strong scent of danger! If you go out with that kind of person, sis, you will meet misfortune. Aye, that is for sure. Gao.”

Was she worried? Wait, probably the bored Sylphid was just getting overexcited. It looks like that this wind rhyme dragon didn’t like members of the opposite gender that she didn’t approve of approaching Tabitha.

As Tabitha ignored Sylphid as always, and was preparing to continue making large bets…, a loud shout was heard from the neighbouring table.

“What is this! Are you making a fool of me?”

The sight of everyone present instantaneously turned toward the scene. The one shouting out was a middle-aged aristocrat.

Judging by the craftsmanship of his cape, he was a low-rank official. His face was white as a sheet, and his whole body was shaking in rage.

“Sir, did something just happen?”

The owner Jeremiah approached the aristocrat with a large smile on his face.

“You dare ask, ‘what happened?’ In this situation, four aces appeared; that would be too much for a coincidence! There was cheating going on.”

“Ah, ah, what are you talking about? As you know, at this casino we put the magic staffs in storage whenever aristocratic customers come. If a customer were to use “magic” here, my place would be annihilated very quickly. However, we ask the same of ourselves. As you can see, there is no staff-wielding dealer. If you don’t believe us, you can use detection magic.”

“Uhhhh…, then, you’re cheating without using magic!”

“Sir, you were the one cutting and dealing out the cards. You are directly gambling with the dealer; that was to show how fair and honest this place is…”

Although the man’s words were humble, his tone was saturated with scorn. The aristocrat disappeared out of the exit with large steps.

“I’m sorry that such a commotion took place.”

Jeremiah bowed low to the customers who were silently watching the scene. However…, the real commotion started in the next moment.

The aristocratic customer just now appeared again, this time with this magic staff. He took back his staff from storage, but returned rather than left.

“You worthless commoner…, you dare to look down on a noble!”

The excitedly gambling customers were screaming, searching desperately for a place to hide.

In front of the staff wielded by the noble, a huge fireball appeared. Just as the fireball was about to swallow Jeremiah…

A shadow streaked across sight, pushed Jeremiah down and rolled on the ground.

“Toma!”

The shocked cry exploded from the spectators. The person that appeared so suddenly was the waiter Toma.

“You!”

The furious noble chanted another spell. In that moment, Toma left Jeremiah’s side.

Forth from the opening of his left sleeve, a lightly flashed.

In the next instant, the noble’s magic staff was cut right in the middle, the front half falling on the ground.

The noble didn’t even have the time to make a sound before Toma quickly caught the noble’s right hand, putting the short sword from inside his sleeve against the noble’s throat. It seems like he’s an experienced short swordsman.

“Milord, it is forbidden to use magic inside the casino.”

“Uaah…, ****…”

Amid anger and shame, the noble groaned while showing the whites of his eyes.

“Please put away…”

“You bastard, you think you’ll go unpunished after doing such a thing to a noble?”

“Even though you say that, your situation will be a bit risky if your higher-ups heard that your magic staff was broken by a mere commoner.”

Toma said with a smile.

The noble was shaking with fury, but he could only lock his jaws and leave the casino. The faces of the other aristocratic customers became eerily pale, but the commoners were applauding enthusiastically. Toma gracefully made a bow in response to the applauses.

“That man is very good. Looks like he’s not all talk. He even defeated a noble! Gao.” Sylphid said with surprise. Tabitha looked at Toma…, but a few moments later she turned her gaze back to the table, and continued betting.

Toma’s expression…, the expression he had when he drew the sword from his sleeve, made a strange impression on Tabitha. It was as though she had seen it somewhere before…, but, she couldn’t remember where.

Tabitha lightly closed her eyes to drive the thought from her mind. Right now, she must concentrate on the table. Else she will lose.

By the time the night had fallen, the mountain of tokens in front of the ever-victorious Tabitha piled even higher. The worth was already about ten and several thousand new gold coins. It was a complete victory.

For some time, she had been completely surrounded by watching customers.

And as Tabitha was about to make her sometieth bet of the day…

She suddenly made a large bet of two thousand new gold coins.

The already pale dealer turned even paler. He shook the dice as cold sweat poured down his back…

Of the three dice, two had the same number. The dealer held his head in his hands. The watching customers, who had even forgotten to breathe, exploded in cheers.

The tokens in front of Tabitha doubled with that throw. The dealer powerlessly hang his shoulders and shook his head.

The masses, who never expected a mere girl like Tabitha to be this talented at gambling, went quiet.

Then, the owner Jeremiah walked over as he clasped his hand.

“Miss…, you won quite a lot there. So, although the night is almost upon us…”

It seems that the amount Tabitha had won was far over what the casino could expect. Voices like, "You can’t escape after winning like that,” were heard in the crowd. Tabitha responded to the meaning of the owner’s words.

“Continue.”

The customers exploded in cheers once again.

Jeremiah narrowed his eyes. He snapped his fingers, and the dealer’s face went expressionless in response, and left the table after nodding.

“I really must apologize, but, because the dealer at this table isn’t feeling well, the table is no longer open. But, I guess Milady is tired of this kind of small bets?

Tabitha nodded her head. Sylphid, who didn’t understand her purpose, started making ‘gao, gao’ sounds.

“Sis! The most important part of winning and losing is to understand when to stop! Gao!”

“Ah, ah, it seems like your servant does not wish to continue… what would you like to do?”

“Ga~o~! Let’s go and buy some rice and meat!”

Tabitha cut across Sylphid, saying, “Continue.”

“Thank you very much. It is an unsurpassable honor for a casino owner like me to have an excellent gambler like Milady playing here. Please, continue your winning streak without any hesitations."

Jeremiah bowed after he finished saying the un-heartfelt words of congratulations.

“Then, let’s prepare a place for you.”

Tabitha shook her head.

“Ah, have you changed your mind?”

“I want to rest for a bit.”

* * *

The room prepared for Tabitha’s break had a luxurious bed and table. It was reserved for noble guests. Beside the bed was a small bell used to call servants, and the wall was decorated with paintings and carvings. It was quite a comfortable room. Or, rather, perhaps it was a room that causes people who’d won money to become unwilling to leave.

“Gao, gao,” Sylphid was complaining to Tabitha, who was reading as usual in the chair opposite.

“Really…, you’ve won so much money already. Ah, you were brought to this room, isn’t this a prison to force Sis into regurgitating all of the money she has won? Gao!”

Tabitha looked up from the book.

“We’re not here to win.”

“Sis, you must not gamble in games where you’ll lose!”

Tabitha pulled Sylphid’s ear over to her to prevent people from listening in on them using magic. She whispered, “…To destroy this casino, that is the assignment this time.”

“Gao.”

“There is no question that there’s cheating going on. I must find it, and tell it to the customers. That will complete the assignment.”

Sylphid nodded in comprehension.

“Then, Sis, you already have a lead?”

Tabitha looked into Sylphid’s eyes, then shook her head. “Ha…,” Sylphid sighed, and then shook Tabitha’s head back and forth.

“You really are a useless little girl. Finish the assignment quickly, then use the money you’ve won to buy meat for Sylphid, that is a secret mission. Don’t forget.”

Tabitha let Sylphid play around with her, as usual.

“Then, let Sylphid help out! I’ll be sure to find out how they’re cheating! Gao!”

Tabitha raised her head, staring at Tabitha. Then she shook her head, saying, “You can’t. This is a mental challenge.”

“What you want to say is that I, Sylphid, am not smart enough?”

“Although I didn’t say that, it’s quite close.”

Sylphid angrily went, “Gao, gao, gao,” protesting with a high voice. “You, you, you caught I, Sylphid, of an ancient race, and you are able to say it’s enough!”

“…Things like finding how the gambling is rigged are completely different from our normal battles.”

Tabitha replied calmly.

“Even I, Sylphid, have my own uses.”

“I understand your good intents, but, you should just stay here.”

Sylphid replied resignedly, “Whatever, whatever. Treating me like an idiot. Boring! Boring! I’ll go take a walk!”

Sylphid opened the door and walked into the corridor in a bad mood. There were more than ten as luxurious doors in the corridor. Do the wealthy nobles of Lugus pass time at places like this every night?

“There might be money laying around somewhere. Really, what does Sis think I, Syphid, am?”

Sylphid muttered as she walked out.

* * *

Tabitha, left alone, turned her eyes back to the book. Cold sweat was dripping down from her forehead. She was reading just now to calm herself down…, but she wasn’t taking in the contents of the book at all.

Find out the rigging method…, when it comes to that, there isn’t a single lead.

She was able to win just now because she saw through the dealer’s habits, and half of it was luck. Although the real thing will begin now that she had collected enough money for gambling, she can’t even imagine what kind of methods the enemy will use.

Will they cheat using magic?

No, the owner already confidently stated that people could use detection magic on the place. That confidence was real. Are they really not using magic?

If that is the case…

Tabitha recalled the waiter, Toma’s speed. The speed with which he drew the sword from his sleeve… Even her, a wind element magic user, could not see through the trick.

Then, are they cheating using slights of hand?

No, it seemed like the noble just now was cutting his own cards.

The more she was thinking, the more her thoughts ran in knots. Now, this assignment is quite difficult. Compared to conflicts with savages and monsters, this is many times more exciting.

“In the end, humans’ greatest foes are humans…”

As Tabitha got entangled in the maze of thoughts, a knock sounded on the door. Had Sylphid returned? No, Sylphid would never knock.

“Who is it?”

“I am the waiter, Toma. Milady, I’m here to deliver drinks.”

It was Toma’s voice. Tabitha narrowed her eyes.

“Enter.”

The door opened, and the handsome Toma walked into the room. He respectfully bowed to Tabitha, then put the bottle of red wine and the glass onto the table.

“Please.”

After putting down the red wine, Toma did not leave the room.

He said to Tabitha, who was wordlessly picking up the bottle, “I know this is very disrespectful…, but, Milady, may I ask to which noble house you were born?”

Tabitha shook her head.

“Since I’ve worked at this job for some time, I can normally see what kind of person someone is with one glance… Milady, your mannerisms have a quality that the average nobles can’t even imitate. I am guessing that you are from one of the top few houses in Gallia?”

“…”

Tabitha stared at Toma.

The narrow eyes…, they were in her memory from before. Toma did not overlook the slight change in Tabitha.

“Long time no see, Miss Charlotte.”

“Thomas.”

Tabitha said this name with some affection in her voice.

“Even so. I am Thomas, son of Denair, who was the head chef at the Orleans Mansion.”

Thomas concisely named himself; the much-missed Thomas bowed his head deeply towards Tabitha.

“To meet at a place like this, it feels as though we are bound by fate. To think that you, Miss Charlotte, would appear through that door, I almost jumped in shock at that time.

In Tabitha’s mind, she finally recalled her memories of the remarkable time she spent with Thomas.

Thomas was the son of the head chef, Denair, at the home she lived in when she was little. He, who was five or six years older than Tabitha, would often play with her when she was very, very small. Even though the steward Bercelon had forbidden her from associating with commoners more than necessary, she found the games Thomas taught her to be as fun as the books she loved to read. So, she always came up with ways to avoid Bercelon’s eyes, and steal into the kitchen.

“You were very clever back then.”

Tabitha remembered the magic tricks that Thomas was very adept at. Even though Thomas didn’t know magic, he could pull out many balls or birds from inside his pockets, and could also guess the suit of a card; he could even make himself disappear by pulling his cape over himself.

Every time she saw him do such things, Tabitha would laugh with all her heart…

“I never saw through your magic, not even once.”

“That was indeed the case,” Thomas smiled.

Then, as he recalled events passed, his handsome face darkened, a sorrowful light appeared in his eyes.

“After that tragic day when the mansion was destroyed, and the servants scattered…, my father sunk completely into depression.”

“What happened to Denair?”

“After that, he quickly passed to the other world. He was worried about Milady’s safety right to the end.”

“Is that so…”

Thomas lifted his head.

“Returning to the present, I must be guided by the founder to be able to meet Milady again. It really is great that you are alright! Servants like myself never heard anything about what happened to you after that, although there were a multitude of rumors. According to some, Milady was sent to another country as a hostage, while others said that you were demoted to a commoner, or that you were secretly imprisoned in El Tiano City, or even that you were forced into a convent, became a nun…, and other rumors like that.” [TL note: I had no idea how to translate the name of the city; please edit it at will.]

Thomas broke into a smile completely void of malice.

“But, now that I see milady before me, I realize that what I imagined before were needless worries. You seem to be very rich. Did the de Shelvon family adopt you as a daughter. Ah, no, I spoke out of place.”

“What about you?”

Thomas was ravished by the question Tabitha asked about himself.

“Are you worrying about me? Milady is just as gentle as she was before. Ah, after my father passed on, I lived as shameless a life as a regular drifter. But then…, the owner of this place, Jeremiah, took me in.”

“…”

“Jeremiah is a very good man. He not only taught me to read, but also gave me a job. That I am here like this is all thanks to Jeremiah.”

Right then, Thomas’s expression became grim.

“Now, let me give my much-missed mistress a word of warning.”

“Warning?”

“Yes. I have already taken ninety percent of the tokens you’ve won and converted them to gold notes. You can change that to hard cash at Seal Bank. Please take them and escape through the back door immediately.”

“Why?”

“Because of certain reasons, I can’t tell you. However, the gambling from now on has been rigged so that it would be impossible for Milady to win.”

Tabitha silently looked at Thomas. There was only concern for Tabitha’s safety in his eyes. It wasn’t a trap. After Tabitha decided that all he said was the truth, she continued by saying, “Tell me the reason.”

Thomas was hesitatingly shaking his head, but, perhaps he thought that Tabitha would not accept the advice without knowing the details. “This casino is actually a charity.”

“Charity?”

“Yes. The casino was set up to bring down the rich and help the poor. Therefore, the rich customers will lose; it is in the design.”

“Who built it?”

“Jeremiah.”

Tabitha recalled the greedy-looking owner. If what Thomas said was true, he wasn’t a man that could be judged by his looks…

“Because of that, I have kept ten percent of what you’ve won as alms for the poor. I’ve decided to return the rest to you after given it some consideration. Please take it go.”

Tabitha did not respond. Thomas looked at the silent Tabitha, thinking, “Now you understand.” Then, he put the gold notes on the table, bowed, and left the room.

* * *

Three hours later… Jeremiah was waiting for his opponent’s appearance inside a private gambling room set up especially for Tabitha. Although he had already sent a maid to the room to notify Tabitha that all was ready, the room was completely empty.

“Could it be possible that she ran away?” Thomas, who was standing besides him, pretended to be ignorant of the matter. “Speaking of that, she exchanged the tokens for gold notes just now…”

Jeremiah opened his eyes wide, “Stupid thing, why didn’t you tell me earlier?”

“Because she was a child, I gave it to her without suspecting her intents.”

“It could have been because she changed her mind and left! Go and stop her, or our work would go to waste!”

Thomas had a mysterious expression on his face as he lowered his head and said, “I’m really very sorry. But, she left ten percent of the tokens she had. Although she’s still a child, isn’t she a very fine noble?”

“Have you forgotten? To win the money from the rich, and then give it to the poor is our righteous task.”

“What you said is completely true.”

“Then don’t open your mouth in praise of the nobility.”

“I’m very sorry.”

Just as Thomas put his hand on his heart in an expression of relief…

The door of the room slowly opened. When Thomas saw the blue-haired girl standing besides the door, he panicked.

“Milady…”

The one who had appeared was Tabitha. Jeremiah hurriedly put on a wide smile and stood up to invite Tabitha to sit on a chair.

“Ah, ah! Really! I’ve waited for you for such a long time!"

Tabitha sat opposite to Jeremiah.

“Ah, I was worried that you had already left! I still had many things to ask Milady in terms of gambling techniques; you really made me anxious as I waited!”

Thomas was shaking his head with a dark face. But, as Jeremiah did not notice his follower’s mood, he started explaining the rules of the game.

This time, they’ll play at cards. It is five-card draw, because they use the five cards they get to determine victory and defeat.

“Then, I’ll be your opponent…, but to demonstrate our fairness, Milady is invited to shuffle the deck for herself. Please, shuffle as you wish.”

Tabitha cut the deck a few times. She did not find anything suspicious: she found no indication that magic had been used on the deck, nor no indication that magical instruments had been used. Even without detection magic, a magician like Tabitha can feel even the tiniest bit of magic.

“I also want to decide the place.”

For an instant, Jeremiah’s expression froze, but it thawed into a smile immediately.

“Ah, ah, you really are cautious! There’s no rigging at all. So there’s no problem with little things like switching the place.”

Tabitha walked out of the room prepared for her and along the corridor. She noticed the kitchen and pointed at it. She believed that a place like that should not have been prepared for rigging.

“You really chose an unusual place!”

The stunned cooks and helpers were shooed out of kitchen. The chairs and gambling table were brought in. The game started.

* * *

Tabitha started betting like lightening. She used the same method to victory as always: first make a few very small bets while observing the opponent, then suddenly make a large bet once she’s sure of victory.

However, this time, all of the large bets she met were lost.

Tabitha’s large bets always lost to the opponent by a very slight difference in the end. Now she understood why that noble was furious: the losses were too improbable.

Tabitha’s forehead gradually became wet with sweat.

When she had only several hundred gold coins let, Tabitha got a chance. Thirteen of the Wind, twelve, eleven,…,nine…, those cards appeared in her hand consecutively. If she got ten of the Wind next, she would get a royal flush, and she’d have gathered the best hand of cards possible.

And the card she got last…, was none other than ten of the Wind.

The noble Wind run was complete with that.

Tabitha raised incessantly. However, Jeremiah followed suit.

Was he trying to lure her into raising more…, Tabitha pushed all in.

“Ah! This really is a shocking gamble! Then, let us show our hands!”

Tabitha’s normally expressionless face showed nervousness, the hands were shown. Jeremiah raised his eyebrows as he looked at the beautifully laid out royal flush,

“Ah, this is another nearly miraculous game…”

“…”

“There is a proverb saying, ‘It needs the Founder’s will for two miracles to appear consecutively.’ If it’s really so, then maybe this is the will of the Founder.”

Jeremiah showed his hand.

It was…, thirteen to nine of the Fire laid out in a row. According to the rules of the game, the noble Wind lost to the noblest Fire. And the most noble of hands was in Jeremiah’s hand.

It would be too much to say it was a coincidence.

It was certainly rigged. However, whatever the method being used to rig the game was, Tabitha hadn’t found it.

In less than an hour, Tabitha had lost all of the gold she won from before. It was a complete defeat.

Tabitha did not leave her seat even though she was completely broke. She was only thinking about how the game could have been rigged. The single question was very difficult. Furthermore, she could not complete her mission if she doesn’t find the answer.

“Now, Milady, it seems that you’re out of tokens…, if you want to continue, would you please buy some more tokens?”

Tabitha shook her head.

“Ah, ah, then this game can’t continue. Would you like to end it right here…, or, would you like to borrow money in the name of your family?”

Tabitha shook her head again. She was using a pseudonym right now. If she borrowed money under that name, she would cause trouble for herself later on.

There had been customers watching from the window opening to the corridor for some time. It must have been very amusing for them to watch a little girl like Tabitha gambling against the owner of the place. Jeremiah, after noticing the gaze of the customers, suggested a crude idea.

“Milady, how about this? Since you are out of money, why don’t you bet your clothes?”

When the customers watching the game heard this suggestion, they exploded in insults, cheers, and catcalls.

Tabitha nodded her head. She could not see through the trick of the opponent. She could not turn back like this.

The game commenced again.

However…, Tabitha could not find any problem with her opponent.

The cloak was taken off.

The shirt was taken off.

The pants were taken off.

After four games, Tabitha only had a short linen undershirt. Tabitha’s flat chest was puffing in frustration.

A complacent smile appeared on Jeremiah’s face as he watched the noble girl sitting opposite to him. [TL note: why are the side stories so much more disturbing than the main series? And this story much more so than the others?]

Tabitha was very dissatisfied.

If the opponent was gambling using magic, there was no way for her to lose until now. Furthermore…, in the situation where they’d already switched the location and methods, this could only serve to demonstrate her lack of abilities.

The linen undershirt…, if she took that off, there would only been the panties left.

“Milady, do you still want to continue?” Jeremiah asked Tabitha. Tabitha nodded her head. Thomas, who had been standing next to Jeremiah, shivering, now walked to Tabitha’s side.

“Milady, please don’t continue anymore. Even if you keep on with this game of gambling, you won’t gain anything from it! If this continues, Milady would become the ridicule of others! Speaking from what I know of Miss Charlotte…”

Tabitha courtly said, “I am no longer Charlotte.”

“Milady.”

“Ah, ah, so you two know each other!” Jeremiah said as he looked suspiciously at Thomas. From his look, he was probably thinking, “That bastard, did he say something that he shouldn’t have?”

“Then, the pot for the next game will be your linen undershirt.”

Tabitha shuffled the deck as though her life depended on it. She moved slowly, and it was only when she had looked carefully at every detail that she dealt the cards.

There was no suspicious place at all. And she had a decent hand.

Jeremiah, would he win because his hand was slightly better?

She didn’t know.

She could no longer analyze the situation. All she knew right now was that she still couldn’t find the rigging method after so many games. Tabitha tightened her jaws as she thought of her powerlessness.

The hands were shown.

Laid out on the table…, Jeremiah’s cards were again just slightly better than her own. How could he have controlled his and his opponent’s hand like that?

“Then, please taken off that too.”

Tabitha shakily put her hand on her shoulder strap. As she was about to pull it down…”

“Wait!”

An already distorted voice sounded in the corridor.

Tabitha turned her head to look; the one that appeared was her faithful blue-haired familiar, Sylphid. The attention of everyone present converged on Sylphid.

“I will never allow you to shame Sis!”

“Ah, ah, isn’t this the servant who came with Milady? This is an important game, so please, don’t interrupt us.”

Flames of a hitherto unseen intensity burned in Sylphid’s eyes.

“However, what’s more unforgivable, is this!”

Sylphid lifted the cage she was hiding behind her back, causing Jeremiah, who’d kept a poker face all this time, to panic.

“You! Where did you get that!”

“No matter where lowlife humans like you commit evil acts, you can’t hide them from an ancient race like mine…, no, it will be revealed by I, the peerless Sylphid! As I was walking in the corridor, I faintly heard a voice calling for help! Aye, only I Sylphid could hear it, the cry for help passed on by the ‘Great Consciousness!’”

A very small weasel was inside of the cage Sylphid was holding.., it stood up suddenly. It could be distinguished from normal weasels in that it had huge, glowing, blue eyes.

The moment it appeared…, all of the cards in Jeremiah and Tabitha’s hands turned into similar weasel-like animals.

“This is ‘Echo’! A great ancient fantastical beast! You used the ‘Force of Sprites’ that Echoes possessed as a way of making money—that’s an extreme insult to the ‘Great Consciousness’!”

It follows that the creatures called Echoes use ‘Aboriginal Magic’s’ ‘change’ spell to change their appearance. In that case, it was not strange that Tabitha couldn’t feel any magic. That’s because the ‘Force of Sprites’ that some call ‘Aboriginal Magic’ is completely different from the ‘Systematic Magic’ that magician’s use.

The Echoes, who had taken on the appearance of cards earlier, ran to Sylphid after making a few clear, high-pitched calls. Sylphid responded with a couple of calls like the ones they’d just made, and the Echoes ran behind Sylphid.

“You dared to use the child of these cute Echoes to force these adult Echoes to do your will! For a brute like you, I, Sylphid, will teach you a good lesson!”

Just as Sylphid was shouting and about to charge forward…

The customers who had been watching behind her until just now stampeded towards Jeremiah.

“You bastard! You dared to cheat us!”

“Lynch him!”

However…, Thomas set himself in front of the crowd.

In front of the mass of people, Thomas nimbly drew the sword from his sleeve.

“You may not touch Jeremiah.”

The customers, who knew Thomas’s abilities only too well, mostly stopped in their tracks. Using this opportunity, Thomas took something from inside his other sleeve, used his mouth to pull the string on it; it seemed that the substance packed inside was phosphorus, so that thick smoke billowed from it immediately. The customers fell into panic.

By the time the smoke cleared, Thomas and Jeremiah had already disappeared.

* * *

“Mr. Jeremiah, please walk this way.”

Under the guidance of Thomas, Jeremiah was escaping through the dark tunnel opening to the outside. In this especially narrow tunnel, wild cats were gathered; they were scared by the sudden invaders, and escaped while meowing loudly.

“But, that maid-servant…, how could she have heard the Echoes’ voices? Humans usually can’t hear the calls of those creatures…” Jeremiah said in confusion.

“Think about the questions later. First, let us decide how to escape, and, after that, how we can reestablish ourselves."

“Ack, ok…”

At this moment, a small shape stood in the way of the two people fleeing.

“Milady.”

It was Tabitha.

From her scanty attire of undershirt and cape, it could be seen that she went there in a hurry. But, in her hand, she already had her magic staff.

“How did you know about this tunnel?”

“I followed the wind.”

Tabitha answered as though it was nothing. The air in this underground facility had a fixed direction. On the other hand, one wouldn’t realize it unless one had exceptionally sharp senses.

Tabitha held out her hand, “Keys for Seal Bank.”

Tabitha’s meaning was for them to hand over the key to the bank vault that held all of the money they’ve gained through gambling. That’s because the money that Jeremiah cheated his customers out off had not yet been given back to the original owners [TL note: could someone check this sentence out in the original? I could not make sense of this in the version I based mine off of]. If this wasn’t done, quite a few aristocrats would be embroiled in a scandal.

Hearing Tabitha, it seemed as though Jeremiah suddenly realized something; he suddenly kneeled on the ground.

“Milady, could it be that you are from the government? If that is the case, please let me go! I’m a fair robber. I only steal a little money from the rich, and then give that money to the poor…”

Just as he said that much, Sylphid walked out from behind Tabitha.

“You are lying! The Echoes have spoken about that! You have never given away any money! You put all the money in your own pocket, and used them for your enjoyment, no?"

Jeremiah stood up angrily, and pulled out a small flintlock pistol.

“Of course! Who do you think will earn money for the sake of others! Toma! Do away with them!”

Thomas looked sorrowful…, but he still stood before Jeremiah protectively.

“Thomas.”

Tabitha called out Thomas’s name as if she was asking him to change his mind. However, Thomas shook his head.

“Actually, I have already realized that. But no matter what, Jeremiah took me in when I had nowhere to go.

After that, Thomas stared at Tabitha longingly.

“Milady, are you working for the government?”

After a moment, Tabitha nodded.

“Why is that? Why does milady…help the royal government that killed your father? I really can’t understand. Since I’m not a noble, I don’t know what kind of considerations Milady has. Miss Charlotte…please, tell me why.”

“I am no longer Charlotte.”

Thomas lowered his body as though he was a cat preparing to pounce on his prey. His hand was already inside his left sleeve.

Tabitha pointed the magic staff in her left hand without disguising her intentions.

“I do not wish to hurt Milady. Please, put up your staff. At this distance, even magicians can’t deal with me.”

Tabitha’s mind recalled how Thomas gracefully defeated the noble a few hours ago. Will he charge at her with his sword? No, he may not use the same tactic. What kind of attack will he make? She really can’t imagine it.

Tabitha shifted into en garde stance.

“I really don’t want to fight against Milady…, there is nothing that would sadden me more.”

“…”

“Milady, you haven’t seen through my magic tricks even once, right?”

Thomas’s beautiful and narrow eyes were narrowed even further.

Tabitha started chanting a spell.

“Air mallet…” [TL note: would someone please edit this?]

Thomas’s movement was even faster.

A coldly glittering dagger flew out of his sleeve, accurately shooting at Tabitha. Tabitha was forced to use the air hammer she chanted just now to defend. The dagger was smashed into the wall by the mass of air.

But, the dagger was merely a feint.

Thomas immediately pulled off a smoke bomb, filling the narrow tunnel with haze so that only indistinct shapes could be seen. Thomas pulled out his sword from his left sleeve. Having fought against magicians countless number of times while he was drifting, Thomas had gotten used to battling against them long ago.

In this situation…, the most important thing is to prevent the aristocrat from seeing things clearly. When the magician starts chanting magic to disperse the smoke, Thomas would locate him by sound, and strike…

Thomas had won innumerable victories using this method.

It will be the same this time.

Once Tabitha starts chanting a spell, he can…

Because of that, Thomas was stunned when Tabitha suddenly appeared in front of him. Faster than the sword Thomas wildly flailed around, Tabitha’s staff landed a solid hit in his abdomen.

Thomas said in a finally satisfied voice, “Instead of chanting magic, using the magic staff as though it were a sword…, it is hard to imagine that an aristocrat would use this tactic.”

“All that can be seen are false, that is a principle of magic tricks that you taught me.”

“So, you turned the tables and used magic to lure me…”

Thomas complacently nodded and fell to the ground.

Tabitha closed her eyes in anguish.

* * *

After taking the key to the bank vault from Jeremiah, Tabitha put a sleep spell on Thomas and Jeremiah and took them to an inn far from that street.

She did not receive an order to arrest the two. She did not plan to tell the location to the government. After all, Tabitha did not have the least intention to punish them. One has to win no matter what means are used: that was Tabitha’s understanding of battles, gambling included.

After Tabitha had paid a visit to the little palace, her mission was complete.

Isabella angrily stared at Tabitha, who’d completed the assignment, then left for her bedroom after commenting, “You’re luck wasn’t bad.”

As for Tabitha, she jumped on Sylphid and flew towards the Academy of Magic.

“No matter what, those brutes were unforgivable! They dared to use Sylphid’s companions, who’re like her relatives’ relatives...the most distant relatives possible, as tools! It seems like the man called Jeremiah accidently brought back the child of the Echoes from the forest a long time ago. When he saw that the child could turn into dry leaves, he realized Echoes had that kind of power. For that reason, he blackmailed the adult Echoes into doing his bidding using the child.”

Tabitha silently shuffled the deck.

As she played around with the deck, she thought back on this mission.

It really was a blind spot, now that she thinks about it.

Just because of the assumption that humans can’t use Aboriginal Magic, she did not think in the direction of, “Perhaps creatures that could use Aboriginal Magic were used.”

Looks like her training was still severely lacking. She must learn by engaging in various types of struggles to gain experience. If she doesn’t do that…, she couldn’t possible achieve her own hope.

“Returning to the topic, Sis, what did you do with the money that was given to you beforehand? There were a hundred new gold coins, no?”

“Returned it.”

Tabitha said carelessly.

“Ahhhhhhhhhh! I can’t believe you! How much meat it could buy! Gao!”

“…”

“This time, it was Sylphid’s accomplishment. If it weren’t for me, Sis’s snow-white skin would have been seen by the crowd! Be grateful to me! Gao!”

Tabitha shook a gold coin in front of Sylphid’s eyes.

“However, I still have one.”

“Excellent! Buy meat! Buy~meat~!

But, Tabitha did not reply; she suddenly tossed the gold coin into the air, and as she was about to catch the coin, Tabitha crossed her arms quickly and then put both her hands on top of Sylphid’s head, saying, “Which hand? If you guess correctly, I’ll use all of it to buy meat for you.”

A tremor passed through Sylphid’s body.

“Um, um….uh, my intuition says that it is the right hand, but, I feel it I on the left…, that…, um…….uh.”

“Which hand?”

“What! I am trying hard to think! According to Sis’s habit, it should be on the right? No, pretending that’s the case when it’s actually on the left?”

Sylphid started muttering out loud. At this rate, she probably wouldn’t be able to decide before they arrive at the academy.

Tabitha shifted her sight away from Sylphid, towards the sky.

She must…, must become stronger.

It is necessary in more than one sense.

Thus did the person who had already made up her mind and the one who was still undecided continue to fly towards the academy of magic.


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