「Wait Fran! Hold on for just a second!」
Erza called out to us as we made our way over from the inn to the dungeon.
He ran towards us with full force, his inner thighs rubbing together and his massive frame jiggling as a result of his movements.
Urushi seemed to feel the same way as me; he was lying down with his tail between his legs. His body language made it seem as if he had simply lost the will to exist because Erza did.
Fran, on the other hand, was able to maintain her composure. Man, she’s got more guts than the two of us combined.
「Erza? Need something?」
「You see, I just so happen to know someone that wants to meet and ask something of you.」
「Wants to meet me?」
「Yuppers! He’s taken an interest in you because of all the stuff he’s heard from all the other adventurers. He really wants to meet the Magic Sword Girl that everyone’s been talking about.」
「What kind of person?」
「Hmmm… well, he’s not a bad guy for sure. He used to be an adventurer, so he’s not the strict type either. He’s effectively the boss of Ulmutt’s beastkin, so it won’t hurt for you to know him.」
Erza’s description made it sound like getting along with the person in question would provide us with a lot of benefits. That said though, we might not actually be able to get along with him.
He might think us to be cheeky. Plus, he’s a beastkin, so the very fact that he wants to meet with Fran seems kinda fishy given that she’s a Black Catkin.
（But introduced by Erza.）
『True. I doubt Erza would introduce you to anyone that’d try to screw with you….』
「I know how you feel. You must be a bit anxious about it, mhmm?」
Yeah, in more than one way at that.
「Don’t worry! I’ll be right there with you. I’ll make sure I take responsibility if he tries to take you for a fool.」
What? Just how? God damn, Urushi’s getting all teary eyed. It’s okay boy, he’s not that scary, it’s okay.
「…Okay. Will meet.」
「Thankies! I’ll show you over to him then.」
「Would you mind if we took a shortcut? I think it’s one you should be able to take without any issues.」
Erza jumped the moment he finished speaking.
Apparently his so called shortcut just involved running atop the building’s roofs. I guess that made sense seeing as how this the city was built like a maze and all that, but was that really okay? Would we not get in trouble?
Er, actually, I guess there wouldn’t really be any complaints, at least not to Erza’s face anyways. Oh well, I guess it saves time, so whatever.
「Nn. No issues.」
And so, we found ourselves in front of a fairly large house after 10 odd minutes.
It wasn’t as big as the mansions nobles would typically have, but it was still fairly sizeable. Two fairly strong-looking beastkin were standing guard in front of the property’s gate.
「Yup. This is Grandpa Aurel’s house. Good day, guards.」
「Good day, Erza. It has been quite a long time since we’ve last seen you. Please, do come on in.」
「That I’ll do. Oh, right, I’ve brought a little someone along with me, so don’t worry about her.」
Wow, Erza showing his face just flat out gets us past security and everything? Damn.
「I’ve done quite a few jobs for Gramps, so he’s taken a liking to me and allowed me go in and out as I please.」
「He’s a former B ranked adventurer and a successful businessman. He’s even also served at the King’s side.」
Holy crap, Aurel sounds like he’s the spitting image of success. Yeah, he doesn’t really sound like the type that’d get along with Fran. Alright, I should find us an excuse to get us the hell out of there just in case the mood turns sour.
Though, I guess he kinda already has his eyes on us already seeing as how he’s calling us out right now.
Man though, the dude’s garden is absolutely massive. We still hadn’t even reached the actual house yet.
The garden was beautiful. It was filled with an assortment of flowers in full bloom and decorated with both fountains and statues. Erza taught us a bit about the flowers’ names as we traversed our way through to the main building.
That said though, neither Fran nor Urushi really seemed to really care about what he was talking about at all.
「Gramps! I’m here!」
「Hey Shalla, where’s Aurel?」
「He’s currently out relaxing on the terrace.」
「Thankies. This way Fran.」
Erza seemed to know the place pretty well. The maid recognized his face, and he’d managed to easily find his way over to his destination without having to stop and ask the maid for directions.
Our destination, the terrace, was on the building’s second floor. It, like the garden, was incredibly vast and expansive. The mansion’s size made it so that the terrace provided us a good view over the city in its entirety. Both Fran and Urushi also seemed rather impressed by the angle we had on Ulmutt.
They both jogged right up to the terrace railing and began looking at the city while completing ignoring the mansion’s owner.
「Hahahaha. Looks like the view happens to be to your liking.」
Whew, thank god he wasn’t all anal about manners and stuff. He simply watched over Fran, Urushi, and the pair’s sparkling eyes with a bit of an amused look on his face.
「That’s good to hear. I’m Wijaht Aurel, a White Dogkin. Mind telling me your name, little missy?」
「Nn. Black Catkin, Fran. This is Urushi.」
「Thanks for accepting my invitation. Do have a seat.」
The White Dogkin was like Erza in the sense that he gave off an incredible sense of impact, albeit one of a completely different type; the man gave off the same sort of impression as a Mafia’s Don.
His back was straight, and his gait full of vitality despite the fact that he appeared rather old.
「You really don’t look like someone in their seventies no matter how I look at you. I really would like you to tell me your secret.」
「It isn’t really anything special. I simply kept setting goals for myself and moving forward. I just didn’t give my body any time to age.」
Thank god he isn’t the type of person I was suspecting he might be.
「This tea is quite delicious, it’s one of my favourites, so I do recommend you try some.」
「The leaves come from the Continent of Chrome. Collecting tea leaves has in fact been the sole hobby that I’ve picked up in my older years.」
「I don’t do the gardening myself. I just hire someone and have them do what they think works best. The garden would probably end up some sort of jungle if I was the one in charge of it.」
Fran got down to business while enjoying the refreshments provided.
「Wanted to meet me? Why?」
「Hahaha, you sure are a hasty one. I honestly wasn’t driven to do so by anything in particular. I just happened to feel like meeting you after hearing all the rumours that’ve been going around town lately.」
「As I said earlier, he’s basically the one in charge of all of Ulmutt’s beastkin. He just so happened to be interested in you, Fran.」
「In charge of the city’s beastkin? That’s an exaggeration. I just happen to know most of the people around because I was an adventurer for at least fifty years.」
Is that really it? Does he really not like run an operation from the shadows or something? Okay, you know what, let’s use the Principle of Falsehood and double check. I know Fran totally just warned me about overusing it, but this is one of this scenarios where I kinda have to! Right…?
「I took quite a bit of interest in how terrifyingly strong everybody said you were.」
「So, what do you think? Isn’t she cute? She really is just as strong as they say too.」
「It seems that you’ve taken quite the liking to her. I can see why, it’s been a while since I’ve seen such a bold kid, so I too immediately took a liking to her. Also, I assume the fact that she’s got your approval means that the rumours were true as well.」
Apparently the part about him taking a liking to Fran was the truth.
「Still believe rumours even though I’m a Black Catkin?」
「What, did you think that being a Black Catkin innately made you weak? That’s not true at all. I’ve met a fairly strong one when I was young, and right here in one of Ulmutt’s dungeons at that.」
Aurel spoke in a bit of a nostalgic tone.
「Really? That’s not something I’ve ever been told about.」
「That’d be because I’ve never mentioned it.」
「Where is that person now?」
Fran questioned Aurel in a tone of voice much firmer than her usual one. I could see why though, this was our first time ever hearing about any other strong Black Catkin.
「That… isn’t a question that I know the answer to.」
「Then, what kind of person?」
「Well, it all happened a whole 53 years ago, so I’ve basically forgotten everything.」
It seemed that he just lied to us… but why? Was it because he died in the dungeon or something?
Aurel’s expression had gone dark. It didn’t seem like he wanted to explore the topic in any more detail.
「I know most of this city’s beastkin, so do tell me if you happen to run into any issues. I’ll be sure to give you a hand.」
The Principle of Falsehood informed me that he really meant what he said, that he’d help us out if need be. You know what, let’s not try digging into that whole other Black Catkin and whatnot. There was no point probing him about the topic, especially seeing as how we seemed to have just won his favour. No point going out of our way to lose it now.
「By the way, I happen to have a request for you. Would you mind taking it?」
「I’d like you to deliver something to a place not too far from here. You should be able to get it done if you work at Erza’s pace.」
「Can’t just ask Erza?」
「I’d prefer if you took this request. How about it?」
Fran replied to him immediately. I felt that this whole thing seemed a bit fishy, but Fran seems to think it’s okay, so , so I’ll just roll with it.
Aurel made a bit of a relieved smile. It seemed that he’d really wanted Fran to take his request.
「Alright then. I’d like you to take this to one of my acquaintances.」
Aurel handed Fran a plain looking pendant with a black stone embedded inside of it. It looked like the type you were supposed to wear around your neck.
It looked a really cheap item, the kind of thing you could find just about anywhere.
「That it is. Could you hand it over to the eastern dungeon’s Dungeon Master?」
「Yeah. Make sure you hand it over personally, okay?」
「Nn. Got it.」
Hmm, this request’s got a bit of a mysterious air to it. I’m really looking forward to seeing what’ll come out of us doing it.