Botello’s eyes trembled in fear as he watched the stone that had just woken on Ayra’s hand.
“H-how cute.”

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     Among all the artificial creatures Ayra had ever created, Pebble was the cutest ever; it had no tentacles, had two normal eyes, and only had one mouth.
Still, Botello couldn’t look at Pebble properly.
It was clear his compliment was just given as courtesy for the one who would soon become the new Lord.

     ‘Is he acting like that because Pebble doesn’t have a nose? It’s more streamlined and cuter without one though.’

     Anyway, in order for others to get used to its existence, Ayra deliberately took out the Pebble.
Botello’s trembling hands gradually regained their stability as Pebble drifted around its Master in a circle.

     Ayra, who dazedly contemplated on how to organize the estate matters in the future, suddenly raised his eyebrows.
The clothes that Botello had dressed him in were too thin.

     “Is there anything to wear that’s a bit thicker than this?” the young lord asked.

     “Thicker clothes? You’d be too warm in this kind of weather.”

     “No, I definitely won’t feel too warm,” Ayra asserted.
As he turned his body, he hit something and stumbled over.
With a clattering sound, brass basins and combs fell to the floor.
“Oh no, I’m sorry.”

     Botello’s eyes widened; with a simple hand gesture, the young lord had effortlessly returned the fallen objects to their original positions–quite naturally, like breathing.
It was only the servant’s long-time experience that stopped him from further expressing his shock; Ayra pretended not to notice his shaking pupils, looking to and fro.
Since Ayra would be in charge of this estate in the future, they needed to get used to having a mage as their lord.

     Botello, who witnessed magic for the first time in his life, shook even more than before, so Ayra had to clothe himself.
Only when he put on his thick coat did he feel warmth circulate his body.
As soon as the young lord mentioned he was feeling peckish, Botello finally returned to his senses and began to guide his master.

     The white castle, which symbolized the Solar estate, had hardly changed from the castle in his childhood memories.
Black cloth, fluttering in the cold wind, was hung all over the estate to mourn for the sudden tragedy that befell the ruling family.

     Ayra turned his gaze to the spot where the family portraits were hung.
A black veil hung over all but his own frame.
After gazing vacantly for a while, he moved away; Botello followed him with a sullen expression.

     The banquet hall was located on the castle’s first floor, So Ayra had to walk down for quite a while.
During his descent, Ayra brushed the walls with his fingertips, immersed in thought.
‘It looks as if a wizard had a hand in building this castle?’

     For whatever reason, the pure white wall had hardly any dirt caked on it even after so much time had passed.
After thinking about it, he recalled that the castle was built five hundred years ago.
His heart started beating in excitement–a magical circuit from five hundred years in the past! It would be well worth researching.
Maybe, he could ask the governor to tear a single stone out of the wall somewhere…?

     If only he could get his hands on a 500-year-old magical circuit–the possibilities were limitless.
Feeling happy, the corners of Ayra’s lips rose automatically.

     After walking while deep in thought, he realized he had reached the first floor.
In front of the banquet hall door, the young governor was talking with a knight dressed in gold armor–Ayra felt cold just looking at it.
Thinking about how best to convey his desire to tear away a single brick, he hurriedly stepped forward.

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     But…it was all in vain.

     Lost in a daydream, Ayra mistook the air for flat ground and stumbled over his own feet; he fell forward with a cry.
For a brief moment, he felt as if he was falling.
In an instant, he painfully slammed his knee against the edge of the stairway, slammed his forehead against the stone railing, and tumbled down.

     Botello, who was following Ayra, was scared out of his wits, “Ayra-nim! Aigoo, young master!” 1

     “Ugh…”

     Rubbing his painful forehead, Ayra looked up; the knight, despite wearing heavy armor, had moved so fast that he had reached the young lord in a blink of the eye.
The knight knelt one step below him, looking up at Ayra.
Green eyes shone from beyond the bars of his helmet, “Are you okay?”

     Ginas, who stood with his mouth wide open at the sudden accident, ran over to him belatedly, “Ayra-nim!”

     “Mm, I’m fine.” Except for the slight ringing in his head, everything was fine; Ayra quickly got up and waved his hands awkwardly.
He was a bit embarrassed–he wasn’t even a child, and yet all of them made such a fuss.

     Ginas narrowed his eyes and stared at Ayra’s forehead.
“I’ll call for the doctor.
There’s no need to overdo yourself while your body isn’t feeling well.”

     “No, no.
I’m truly alright.
I’m fine.”

     Ayra tried to stop him; it wasn’t as if he stumbled because he wasn’t feeling well…he stumbled because he had been thinking of other things.
This time, Botello created a fuss, calling for the doctor just in case the young lord hurt his head.
Ayra groped the back of his head; there was no blood–just a small bump.

     It was only when he shouted multiple times how hungry he was that these people stopped their efforts.
He was so embarrassed that he couldn’t even voice his request to tear away a brick from the castle wall.

     “If you aren’t feeling well, please feel free to let us know.” Until the very end, the Knight earnestly requested Ayra to take care of his health; afterwards, he finally opened the door to the banquet hall.

     Though he was embarrassed enough to be flushed red all the way to his collar, Ayra entered the room with a calm expression.

     A long wooden table was placed in the middle of the dining hall.
Ayra, who sat at the head, observed all the guests; most of them were familiar faces from the funeral.
Shinjae had attended the meal as a guest and occupied one seat; he greeted Ayra with his eyes.

     ‘What should I even say in a place like this?’

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     Ayra had never stood in front of so many people before.
He had only ever given a research presentation in front of a few of his colleagues and his sunbaes 2 in the Labyrinth.
He wished someone would open their mouth to speak first, but everyone remained silent.
It seemed that as the one with the highest status, Ayra would have to break the ice.

     Eventually, he began to slowly speak, “Hello to all of you.
What a vibrant and energetic morning…”

     While saying whatever came to mind, Ayra called upon the stat windows of the nine people sitting close to the head of the table.
However, even though his mana was spent, the stat windows did not manifest.

     “……?”

     Because Ayra blankly stared at the empty air where the stats should have been displayed, Ginas, sitting directly next to him, cautiously asked, “As expected, is your headache quite painful?”

     When he said that, all eyes in the banquet hall looked towards Ayra’s flushed forehead.
Since his skin was so pale, the reddish lump was too conspicuous.

     Ayra slyly covered the injured spot with his silver hair, “I’m fine.”

     However, the retainers, who now saw that the wound was twice as swollen as before, were already whispering amongst themselves.
Ginas also flinched; he felt that the swelling was becoming quite serious.

     “I just haven’t…” As Ayra looked around him, a window suddenly popped up, and his words gradually slowed to a snail’s pace.
The wrinkles on the young governor’s forehead deepened.

 

[Loading….]

 

     “…woken up properly yet.”

     Loading? What did that mean? As soon as he thought that, another window appeared

 

[Tip: Checking multiple stats at once will multiply the time needed to process the information and mana needed.]

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     ‘Aha, I see.’ It seemed he still lacked the ability to overlap this status skill.
Ayra inwardly sighed and continued to speak, “In any case, I’m really fine.
Shall we start eating now?”

     Ayra lifted his silverware before anyone could say such nonsense like calling for the doctor again.
When he took a sip of the soup, the others finally also gripped their silverware as well.

     In the middle of the silence that ensued–only broken by the clattering of spoons and forks against the dishes–Ginas opened his mouth, “Ayra-nim.  There was no opportunity to introduce ourselves during the funeral; how about we proceed with introductions while we eat?”

     “Mm, okay.” Ayra nodded without much thought; starting for the seats closest to the head of the table, the introductions began.
Governor, knight commander, administrative minister, scribe, an elder…and then their son, daughter, daughter, son, son, and daughter again…

    ‘I didn’t think there’d be so many members in their households; is it supposed to be like that?’

    There seemed to be fewer than twenty retainers.
At least half those gathered appeared quite young, so they must be the retainer’s children.
Ayra was too young when he last lived in the Solar territory, so he barely remembered the retainers.
He knew nothing of the estate’s matters, so Ayra simply tilted his head.

     When Ayra turned his head to ask the governor if this was the right number of servants present, Ginas cleared his throat.
He knowingly pointed with his eyes to something below.

     Ayra followed his gaze, “Mm?….Ah.”

     While looking away for a moment, his sleeve fell into the soup.
Ayra, lifting his arm, lightly clicked his tongue and performed magic.
The eyes of those who pretended to not notice Ayra’s mistake widened when only soup flowed out of the wet sleeve and formed a bubble in the air.

     Though he had extracted pure soup, it still felt a bit weird to drink it again.
After spilling the droplet into the napkin, Ayra raised his head; the people quickly averted their gaze.
Everyone pretended to eat, expressions dark.

     In midst of the heavy silence, the minister who last introduced himself poked his son sitting next to him in the ribs.
The son’s vivid pink hair was quite memorable.
Unable to endure the pain in his side, the son gathered up his courage to ask, “M-my lord.
Excuse  me, b-but what’s with that ghost-like thing?”

     “Ah, this?”

     To finish the quest and revive the atmosphere, Ayra presented the spirit that was floating in a circle around him.
“It’s a cute spirit I made.
It’s named Pebble, and it’ll be with me from now on.
Doesn’t the lack of a nose make it cuter?”

     Ayra didn’t expect much welcome for the spirit, despite how he highlighted its cute aspects.
However, he didn’t expect the current cold silence that befell the table.
Some people laughed awkwardly, some avoided eye contact, and others hurriedly drew a holy sign beneath the table. 3

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     Ayra was flustered by the reaction.
These people, who had worked for many years in this territory, seemed like people that had never come into contact with magic before in their lives.
In particular, it was shocking that they would draw a sign of the cross as if they had encountered something evil.

     Pebble, whose ㅅ shaped mouth was poutier than usual, created another text window

 

[Tip: Most humans are ignorant, conservative, and xenophobic.  ]

 

     After that bitter comment, Pebble sank slowly onto Ayra’s shoulder, strangely sullen.

     ‘I’ve lived in the Labyrinth for too long–I don’t know what it’s like in the outside world.’

     Or, perhaps a rare mage had visited this land and created some mess–he had no idea! The vibe just felt incredibly strange and chilly.
In the nick of time, the skill seemed to have finished loading, and the vassal’s stat windows popped up next to their heads.

     Ayra thought, while looking at them, ‘Will a lord like me be truly okay with retainers like them? This territory…’

 

 

 

 

TL: Ayra…what kind of eldritch abomination artificial spirits have you been creating? Why is Pebble not having any tentacles or two eyes such a surprising thing for you….?

Aigoo = a surprised exclamation.  Sunbae = senpai (for those familiar with this japanese term.
It generally means their senior colleague, whether in career or school.  Drawing a holy sign = something similar to drawing the catholic cross.
They’re trying to protect themselves through religion. 

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