Read at Watashi wa Sugoi Desu!
Chapter 38.1 – Flaming Red Wolf P.1
Five days after the Knight’s awarding ceremony, I returned to the Royal Capital Church and with it, my days as the apprentice nurse Erin.
However, unlike before, I helped with the sale of indulgences more often. It was now at a frequency of once every other day. Similarly, while Father Michael used to entice people with dubious words, he had now escalated to the point of almost-coercion.
Impoverished believers desperately strove to find the funds to afford these indulgences, yet the upper echelon of the Royal Capital Church, Father Michael included, greedily snatched the money up, as if that behavior was natural.
They were truly demons.
But I doubt that they can continue to do this for long. The Royal Capital Church had been too conspicuous lately, so Father and His Majesty should have them in their sights. Still, this situation where the Church was left to do as they pleased meant either of two things: they had effective countermeasures against Lord Edward; or Father and His Majesty were too busy with another situation on their hands.
I, a mere pawn of the second prince, had no way of knowing. Up until this point, the Church had been careful. They cautiously tread the fine line that, once breached, would incite his Majesty to make his move. But now, they had really begun to show their true colors.
Did that mean House Macmillian – not only them, but the religious faction, too – are starting to enact their big plan?
It was the worst possible development that could happen, but I dispelled the thought. It was not my place to call the shots. I could only do what I was able.
Let’s trust in His Majesty and the rest.
Today, once again, I helped sell indulgences as Erin.
Today’s holy relics were small porcelain bottles of scented oils. Naturally, they weren’t real holy artifacts but plain scented oils. They were probably being sold 30 times higher than the original price.
“Erin, leave the leftover oils here.”
“I understand, Father Michael!”
I replied with Erin-styled energy and left the box of leftover scented oils in the corner of Father Michael’s office, as he directed.
“You did wonderful today. I have high expectations of you, Erin.”
Was today’s remuneration Father Michael’s words of gratitude again? How troublesome. If I wasn’t Erin at the moment, I would not have been smiling.
I considered with half-hearted seriousness to readjust Erin’s character when Father Michael looked like he just remembered something and suddenly started to speak again.
“We won’t be selling indulgences the day after tomorrow, so you don’t need to come.”
“Is there something else going on?”
“I have another big job to handle.”
Another big job ― the Sabbath?
As I carefully played the character of Erin, I probed to learn more of his “big job.”
“Oh, my! It must be a very important job for the Church, right? Is there anything I can do to help?”
Innocent and pure, I looked at Father Michael with twinkling eyes.
Father Michael grinned, his face hiding his true intentions, as he answered with a voice that was both kind yet condescending to Erin.
“This job is still too early for someone as pure as you. But… perhaps, the day you can help will come. When it does, I’ll ask you, Erin.”
I thought so. It’s the Sabbath.
I chuckled to myself, having obtained this unexpected information as the fruit of my labor.
“Well then, Father Michael. Thank you for your work today!”
“I hope we work together again.”
I left Father Michael’s office and headed to the white dormitory.
Late that night, Mary visited my dormitory room for our periodic information exchange. Naturally, she entered through the window.
Lying face down and sprawled out on my bed, I had turned my face to look at Mary.
Mary viewed the display with knitted brows.
“A lady must not lie down on her bed in such an unsightly manner, Milady.”
“Why are you laughing?”
“That’s just how you are, Mary.”
Even when I returned home after my long absence for the Knight’s awarding ceremony the other day and left some instructions for the House on another matter, I didn’t get to meet Mary.
To have seen the usual Mary after so long is so refreshing – I felt warm with fondness.
“I’m very pleased to see Milady, as well.”
When she relaxed her stiff expression, Mary smiled beautifully, like a blooming flower.
“Hmm… seeing as you’re like this, there isn’t anything particularly bad I should know about, correct?”
In response, Mary’s face immediately stiffened again and moved on. She began to report on the investigation I instructed her to carry out.
“About the halberd-user Milady had encountered — I have uncovered his identity. He appears to be a mercenary nicknamed the ‘Flaming Red Wolf’.”
“Mercenary… I had a general inkling of such. So, why is he called the Flaming Red Wolf?”
“He uses a halberd on the battlefield – when he cuts up his enemies, the blood spews everywhere, and the sight is reminiscent of a flickering flame, hence the ‘Flaming Red’. As for why he is a ‘Wolf’: he is not deeply involved with any particular organization, nor does he have any particular attachment with anyone to call them comrades. Thus, a lone wolf.”
“A nastier reason than I thought…”
“Aliases people earn from their work on the battlefield are all like that. Although, the same can be said of Milady who is called the ‘perfect lady’ by society.”
Hn? I feel like she just made fun of me.
“Between the Flaming Red Wolf and the Black Butterfly, who do you think is stronger?”
As retaliation, I was a little mean and mentioned Mary’s alias from her time as an assassin. Of course, I knew that she was embarrassed whenever she was referred to by that name.
“Have I not told you time and time again to please not mention that name!”
“Okay, okay, please move on to your next report.”
If I teased her any longer, Mary might truly get angry, so I held back and went back to business.
“I searched for the exclusive door that the nobles use to enter and exit the Royal Capital Church – but instead of just one, I instead discovered several locations, one of which is in the graveyard just outside the Royal Capital. After having guards from House Lewis stationed there for three weeks, we have noted people either connected to the nobility or Church, coming and going from there.”
“Several… Please continue your investigation to uncover any more entrances, and mark the map with the location of the entrances. Then hand it to Vincent. Make preparations for it to be handed over to Prince Edward as well.”
“As you wish.”
“Also, inform them that there will likely be a Sabbath held the day after tomorrow.”
“The day after tomorrow? In that case, may I infer that Milady’s role is nearing its end?”
“Not necessarily. Prince Edward is not the type to let this chance go.”
“Has Milady predicted how the Second Prince will move?”
“With how the religious faction’s movements have escalated, he has no reason not to move. If he dawdles, the carpet will easily be pulled out from under his feet. Frankly speaking, the religious faction has been acting strange as of recently. I wouldn’t go as far to call them incompetent, but despite being composed of nobles who only act in self-interest, they had been doing a fine job of hiding their weaknesses up until this point. Their actions, too, have been organized to an extent, but now…”
“Is there a possibility that House Macmillian isn’t the only one pulling the strings? Something bigger?”
“I can’t predict that far. But His Majesty and Father — Prince Edward, perhaps, as well — might know something. But there’s no point in focusing on a mere possibility. We can think all we want, but answers won’t come.”
“If there’s any information related to it, I will promptly investigate.”
“Please and thank you.”
“Also, Milady, please lay low for the next Sabbath. Milady has done more than enough as the Second Prince’s pawn. More than a noble lady should.”
“A rather harsh way of putting it.”
Mary knelt before me sitting down on my bed and pleaded with hints of tears in her eyes.
“I am reminding you, Milady. This job was originally given to you because no one else but you could do it. You had no choice but go through with it because of the Master’s intentions and the Second Prince’s orders. But please don’t expose yourself to any more danger.”
As a maid, Mary was incapable of restricting my movements; nor was she able to refuse orders handed to her. She understood, and it’s why I was painfully aware of her worries.
“I cannot promise that. But, I do not plan on dying yet. That’s why, Mary, if you’re worried, please carry out my orders and return quickly. That way, you can protect me.”
I cupped Mary’s white cheeks with my hands and gently conveyed my reassurance.
“Yes. I will risk my life to protect Milady.”
“Rather than that, can you treasure your life? You are my only Mary.”
“Yes. I swear on my life. Now then, I will return to the estate so I may return to Milady’s side as soon as possible.”
Mary’s eyes shone with determination, a little different from earlier, and left the room through the window once again without a sound.
I was fortunate to have a precious maid like Mary.