Chapter 532: Performance

For nearly an hour, Alosrin sat in his carriage ruminating over matters before turning his attention to Pram and saying, “You, you like to pride yourself on your intelligence, what do you make of this situations?” Other than her physical similarities to Riveria, the thing that had initially drawn Alosrin to Pram was that she had started to become well-known amongst the plebian society. He had intended to recruit her regardless but, after seeing her hair and disposition, Alosrin had become deeply interested in her because he had a unique preference for dealing with ‘strong’ and ‘intelligent’ women. Knowing she was working so hard to protect her family always brought a smile to his face whenever he made her do degrading acts. Unfortunately for her, her little sister had the same hair color and Alosrin didn’t plan to let her remain outside his grasp unless he could get his hands on Riveria within the next few years.

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Hearing Alosrin addressing her, Pram showed an expression of distaste and apathy before saying, “The Elven Kingdom has no real power or influence within Orario, thus there is no reason for them to express any concerns over the actions you would take against them. Even if they offend you greatly, the Elven Kingdom will not march on the City and there is no way the City Officials would hand over Vahn Mason. The title of ‘Sage’ was requested and bestowed to him by Riveria, not something he had tried to obtain for himself. It is very likely he doesn’t hold the title in high regards, so there is little chance they will compromise after you offended his servants. Judging by how they were dressed, and the quality of their arms, they were obviously highly regarded by Vahn Mason and it is likely you’ve offended him by-” Before she could finish her words, Alosrin backhanded Pram and scowled at her. She always knew how to rile him up but this was one of the reasons he enjoyed tormenting her so much. Her contempt and disdain made his desire to bend her to his will even stronger and it was always funny seeing how she would shame herself just to ‘protect’ others…

Pram wiped the blood away from her nose and returned to her normal cold expression as she sat silently on the floor of the carriage. She considered Alosrin to be an idiot for behaving like they were in the heart of the Elven Kingdom without taking into account their actual position. Like most High Elves, this was one of the first times he had actually left the ‘comforts’ of the forest so his deeply rooted bias and egotistic nature was out in full force. If he encountered a Beast Human within the forest, they would likely bow low to him in order to avoid a harsh punishment. Here, however, Beast Humans had the same status as every other race, something that seemed to be beyond his rationale entirely.

Alosrin continued to stare out the window with clear frustration written on his face as he waited an additional ten minutes. After hearing Pram’s words, Alosrin believed that Vahn didn’t actually care about the Sage title at all and, considering that Riveria hadn’t shown up to ‘greet’ him, he felt enraged and embarrassed. Even if she disdained him, they were still betrothed to each other and their engagement had already gone on for far too long. As the Elven society was highly patriarchal, he felt incredibly offended by the fact that she had failed in her ‘obligations’ to him. Thinking that she was looking down on him, Alosrin slammed his hand against the carriage door and knocked it up with a start.

With a cold expression on his face, Alosrin flicked his sleeves before standing tall with them behind his back and nodding to his Father’s loyal retainer, Keelan. The Commander, Keelan, nodded his head before slamming his gloved fist against the barrier as if he were knocking. Much like Alosrin, he couldn’t believe they had been ‘mistreated’ to such an extent and he wanted to take the matter directly to the Master of the two ‘arrogant’ servant girls. However, shortly after he knocked against the barrier, two familiar figures appeared and Keelan felt his rage begin to boil up inside of him as they ‘casually’ walked over.

Maemi and Emiru had been waiting inside the foyer discussing matters with Loki as she communicated through several different scrolls all at the same time. Many of the other girls were loitering around the area as well, including Ais who was polishing her [Gram] with a complacent expression on her face. They had all heard the report given by Maemi and Emiru, so the majority of the girls present were already in an alert status and prepared to mobilize at a moments notice. Their enemies were primarily Magic-Knights, which meant a fast response was necessary if they wanted to avoid a large amount of collateral damage. Though the barrier could hold up for a while, a continuous barrage of magic would break through, potentially endangering the weaker residents of the Manor.

Once they reached the gate, showing absolutely no regard to the ire contained in the expressions of the guards, the twins asked in a ‘polite’ tone, “Do you wish to meet with our Master~?” Instead of addressing Alosrin as an ‘Envoy’, they simply referred to him as ‘you’ when asking the question. Alosrin took a deep breath through his nose and exhaled before showing a ‘kind’ smile and saying, “I have journeyed for nearly forty days to reach this point, so I would at least like to meet with the purported ‘Sage’ before I return. Never say I am not magnanimous, as I will overlook your indiscretions this time in lieu of completing my duty. Take me to your Master, though I will ask that my attendants and the Command of my guard accompany me.”

Maemi and Emiru looked to each other and tilted their heads, causing the vein in Alosrin’s temple to throb, before they nodded and said, “Very well, you ‘may’ bring up to four people with you.” Emiru pulled out a tab and tapped it four times before storing it away. The barrier of the gate fluctuated slightly, allowed Alosrin, Keelan, Sierra, and Pram to enter. There was no need to bring a fourth person, and the Lieutenant was necessary to keep order within the unit while they awaited the return of Alosrin. However, when they entered through the barrier, Keelan began to unsheathed his sword as Maemi and Emiru immediately jumped back and brandished their halberds. Just as he was about to step forward, Alosrin held up his hand and showed a ‘friendly’ smile as he said, “Keelan, that is unnecessary. We can’t let ‘simple’ servant girls bother us, after all, it’s not their fault their intelligence is lacking. Now, little kittens, why don’t you lead me to your ‘esteemed’ Master~?”

In one smooth motion, Maemi and Emiru restored their stance before gesturing toward the residence at the eastern side of the Manor. Knowing they weren’t going to be entering the Hearth Manor itself, Alosrin furrowed his brows before returning to his smiling expression and saying, “Lead the way…” Though they did, in fact, begin leading the way, the twins did something strange that baffled the gathered Elves. With absolute ‘confidence’ in her movements, Emiru kept her face towards them as she backstepped in pace with Maemi. They weren’t foolish enough to trust their backs to people that just tried to attack them so Maemi watched the front while Emiru watched their back. Sharing their sight had been something they worked on a lot over the last month so they could do things that would seem impossible to most people.

Alosrin’s interest in the two girls increased marginally but he decided they weren’t worth his efforts unless Vahn was the ‘typical’ weak-minded human. If he saw weakness in the boy, Alosrin would pressure him to the point that the only ‘compromise’ Vahn could make would be to ‘gift’ the two girls to him as compensation. Even if he didn’t care about the title of Sage, he had to consider the power Alosrin had with the ‘backing’ of the Elven Kingdom. Unless Riveria had ‘betrayed’ him and provided Vahn with information about their home, he should be able to fool the ‘simple-minded’ human boy. One of the pieces of information he had stated that Vahn was only 15, young even by human standards, so Alosrin didn’t take him seriously at all.

Once they reached the ‘small’ residence, Alosrin noticed that the actual construction of the building was very high-quality and he humored the idea that it was a special building that consolidated the wealth of the Hestia Familia as a pretense. He even imagined the interior of the larger Manor being completely barren since the outer appearance, though large, wasn’t as impressive as the smaller building. Snorting through his nose, Alosrin stepped through the double-doors that had been opened by the twins and walking into the ‘lavish’ interior of the Guest Residence. He remarked in his mind that Vahn must have been a boy that played at being powerful by hiding behind a pretense. It was more likely that Riveria herself had found the solution to the Elven infertility issue and just wanted to promote someone else to avoid having to return to the Elven Kingdom temporarily…

The moment Alosrin entered the larger room, he looked around the area and immediately locked his on Riveria as a possessive glint passed through them. However, his eyes were drawn away from her shortly thereafter when he saw the other green-haired beauty nearby. For a brief moment, Alosrin felt at a loss because the feeling he got from the beautiful woman was unlike anything he had ever experienced. As if he had no control over his own body, Alosrin inhaled the flowery fragrance permeating through the room and briefly reminisced his first time with his handmaiden. She had been his first love and had treated him well ever since he was a young boy. If she hadn’t ‘betrayed’ him, Alosrin felt like he could have been happy with her at his side…

Shaking his head to clear his thoughts, Alosrin gave another glance at the strange woman and saw the pointed green ears, the scales on her hands and feet, and the large pair of wings behind her back. There was a powerful aura of nature elements radiating from her body and Alosrin felt like she were a spirit that had decided to show favor to the Hestia Familia. Though she was arguably more beautiful than even Riveria, Alosrin pulled his eyes away from her and looked toward the other two people present. He could see a woman that radiated a divine aura, obviously a goddess, while a young boy that he couldn’t really feel any power from at all sat at her side. Seeing the ‘child’ that should be the ‘Sage’, Vahn Mason, Alosrin snorted once again because of Riveria’s obvious plot to avoid returning to the forest for a few more years.

As they had never met, Alosrin had no way of knowing that Vahn had actually altered his form to appear much younger than he actually was. Instead of the 173cm he had been walking around with lately, Vahn was now only 150cm tall and was only slightly taller than the 140cm Hestia. He also made his skin look somewhat pale compared to the healthy tan he usually had and he was wearing simple clothing with an ‘innocent’ smile on his face as he said, “Emiru, Maemi, thank you for bringing our guest to meet me. I was beginning to think we would be waiting all afternoon, hahahaha~” Vahn intentionally worded things to make it sound like Alosrin had been inconveniencing them instead of the other way around. This also had a double meaning of sorts, because it allowed Alosrin to try and take the high ground to remark on the matter…

Taking the bait, Alosrin smiled in an arrogant manner as he said, “Well, there were other matters that required my attention so I couldn’t arrive sooner. Had you come to greet us properly, we could have dealt with matters directly. You’ll have to forgive me for making you wait, Vahn Mason, as it was not my intention to do so…Ah, where are my manners…” Alosrin showed an impeccable bow and said, “Greetings, as I’m certain Riveria has informed you, my name is Alosrin Els Lainu, Envoy of the Elven Kingdom and first-born son of Alfred Els Lainu, Duke of the West…” Seeing Alosrin’s display of etiquette, Vahn honestly ‘applauded’ the act and said, “You have impressive manners, Envoy Alosrin~! I’m afraid my own may back lacking, so please show me some leniency…”

Vahn ‘jumped’ up from the sofa and returned a ‘sloppy’ bow of his own as he said, “Greetings, my name is Vahn Mason, Sage Aldrnari and Captain of the Hestia Familia~!” Vahn had a large smile on his face as he gestured between Hestia and Terra, saying, “This is my goddess, Hestia-sama, and my tamed monster, Terra. You’ve already met the twins, Maemi and Emiru, and this is my close friend and colleague, Riveria~!” Hestia flinched slightly when Vahn addressed her with ‘sama’, but she still managed to keep her expression from breaking down as she sipped at her tea and said, “Welcome to the Hestia Familia’s ‘Guest Residence’.”

Alosrin watched Vahn’s ‘attempt’ at etiquette and scoffed internally as he absentmindedly listened to the introductions. Hearing Vahn introducing the ‘spirit’ behind him as his ‘tamed monster’ caused Alosrin’s brows to raise but he kept his words for the time being since it was rude to interrupt a goddess. The Elves had an intrinsic respect for Gods and Spirits, so he wouldn’t interrupt her unless they had come to loggerheads with each other. Since it seemed that the only person of ‘concern’ at this small meeting would be Riveria herself, Alosrin began to wonder how best to take advantage of this situation…

A few seconds after Hestia’s words finished, silence took over the room that caused Alosrin to frown slightly as he asked, “Riveria, you can’t show simple courtesies to your husband? I came all this way to meet you, surely you can greet me properly…” Hearing Alosrin address her, Riveria looked over with a plain expression on her face and said, “You can here to ‘validate’ Vahn’s title as ‘Sage’, that is it. I have no interest in pandering to a fool that wasted everyone’s time by playing around in his carriage with young girls…” Though she didn’t truly disdain Sierra and Pram, Riveria turned cold eyes to the two girls that made the smaller Elf tremble. As for Sierra, however, her eyes widened slightly because she had quickly recognized what was going on. She didn’t know how things would play out, but it was obvious that they were ‘playing’ Alosrin for the fool he is.

Having already expected Riveria’s cold behavior, Alosrin didn’t show any concern for her words as he walked over and sat down on the opposite sofa. He noticed everything within the room was very expensive, especially the table and ceramic tea set that was set out. It irked him that there was a second pot of tea on his side, but he simply looked to Pram and said, “Pram…” before coming to a stop and eyeing the two girls flanking the doors. A somewhat sadistic smile appeared on his face as he turned to Vahn and said, “Your servants are rather eye-catching, but their education is severely lacking. The managed to offend my entire entourage with their actions, so you should discipline them properly, Vahn Mason.”

Vahn showed a ‘confused’ expression as if he didn’t understand what Alosrin was saying at all. He looked toward Maemi and Emiru to see their small smiles before shaking his head and saying, “That doesn’t sound like Maemi and Emirus at all, so I’m afraid I can’t believe your words so easily Envoy Alosrin. If they truly did offend you, I’ll apologize as their behalf but I must also correct a misconception you seem to have made. Though they have willingly taken to the role of maids, neither girl is a ‘servant’ and they are actually important members of my family. If they offended you, I must infer that they had reason to act in that manner, so please forgive their indiscretion as I believe it is a difference in culture that had caused the misunderstanding~.”

Alosrin’s smile had grown marginally when he heard that Vahn would apologize on their behalf, but his words got stuck in his throat when Vahn ‘explained’ his misconception. If they weren’t actually servants, there wasn’t really any way he could get the girls to serve him without pressing the situation and forcing Vahn into a corner. However, Alosrin could tell from Vahn’s disposition and how he structured his words he wasn’t the ‘simple’ boy he had thought him to be. It was obvious he had a modicum of intelligence, which made sense if Riveria was trying to pull one over on the Elven Kingdom. If she wanted Vahn to be her patsy and represent her, he would obviously need some degree of intelligence of the facade would be seen through too easily…

Deciding the let the matter with the offending twins slide for the time being, Alosrin adopted a more natural smile and said, “As you’re aware, I came here to confirm whether or not you are deserving of the title of Sage. Though my fiancee’s opinion is highly regarded in Elven society, and it is within her right to confer the title, it must be officiated by the Elven Kingdom to become a permanant title. If I find the reality of your accomplishments unequal to the claims made, I’ll have no choice but to strip it from you. However, as you seem to be an intelligent young boy, there is always hope you will be able to earn it in the future. I have been tasked to evaluate your character and, if it is noble and in line with the Elven Kingdom’s interests, we have decided to allow your presence within the Elven Kingdom as the first human within nearly a thousand years.”

In an annoyingly similar manner as the two girls, Vahn cocked his head to the side with a blank expression before saying, “I have no intention of ever leaving Orario, at least not for any long period of time. This place is my home, and I will continue striving towards a future that benefits everyone, not just the Elves.” Alosrin wasn’t too surprised by Vahn’s words because he believed Riveria had ‘primed’ him to stay such things. Seeing how she was remaining silent while focusing most of her attention on Vahn made Alosrin absolutely sure he was just a puppet of Riveria’s. She might treat him as her genuine protege and student, but Vahn seemed like nothing but a righteous idiot spewing platitudes. What was the point of seeking benefits for everyone when the only competent races in the world were the Elves and the Dwarves? Without explaining why, Alosrin shook his head and looked at Vahn with ‘pity’ contained within his gaze.

Seeing the way Alosrin looked at him, Vahn couldn’t help but comment internally, (“Sis, this person is so far gone that he actually takes pity on me for trying to help everyone…?”) Though he didn’t actually expect an answer, a surprisingly ‘angry’ voice sounded in his head, saying, (*He is a fool that had never grown beyond his family and the authority he borrowed from others. Please, if you do end up dueling this idiot, give him a punch in his smug face for me. I can’t stand the way he looks at you…*) Vahn’s eyes opened partially in shock, causing Alosrin to think that he had felt ‘rightfully’ embarrassed after realizing the folly of his words.

Deciding that Vahn wasn’t really worth talking to, Alosrin decided to guide the conversation forward as he sipped at his own tea and asked, “What evidence do you have to prove your claims? Other than the fertility issue with the Elves, I’ve heard the rumors that you even found a solution that allowed goddesses to get pregnant? I’d like to see with my own eyes proof of your claims before we move forward with other discussions. Surely, you have prepared something verifiable and haven’t made baseless claims just to garner fame for yourself~?” Though he was speaking to Vahn, Alosrin had his eyes fixed on Riveria as a slight sneer appeared on his face.

Instead of Riveria answering, however, it was Vahn who pulled out a large stack of documents that detailed many aspects of his research into High Elves and Elven physiology. Alosrin squinted his eyes because he realized the documents had appeared out of thin air, meaning Vahn likely had access to the rare storage magic that was coveted by many. He started to realize there was more to the boy than meets the eye and understood why Riveria had taken him under her wing. Seeing the documents, however, Alosrin squinted his eyes as he tried to pick one up from the table. Before he was able to do so, the documents disappeared once again, confirming that Vahn indeed had storage magic. The confusing thing was that he was able to use it without chanting at all…

Vahn looked confusedly between Alosrin and Riveria, causing Alosrin to also look toward her as she calmly explained, “Without a proper exchange of benefits, there is no reason for Vahn to turn over his research to the Elven Kingdom. I have also taken a vow not to speak about the information either, so my own notes are safely kept away from prying eyes…” Alosrin felt his temples twitch as a serious expression appeared on his face and he said, “This is completely unacceptable, Riveria! We have already allowed you to confer to him the title of ‘Sage’, something a ‘human’ has never been allowed to possess. What other compensation are you trying to-” A thought suddenly passed through Alosrin’s mind and his expression became cold as he asked, “Are you trying to avoid marrying me by holding the solution to our people’s greatest problem as ‘ransom’? I never thought you were such a crass and shameless woman…”

After Alosrin’s words fell, there was silence within the room as everyone showed serious expressions on their faces. The only exception was Riveria, who remained entirely unflustered as she said, “Our people tout themselves as the most intelligent and capable of the races, but we can degrade ourselves to the point where we want to ‘steal’ the research of a young human boy? It isn’t my information to hold hostage, I’ll even swear a vow upon it if it pleases yo-” Before Riveria could finish, Vahn’s expression made a transition from being calm and amicable into one of absolute seriousness with a hint of scorn as he said, “Riveria, you don’t have to make concessions with this man. If he wishes to throw around accusations, allow him to do so at his leisure…hmph!”

Hearing Vhan’s outburst, Alosrin looked at him with an expression of disgust before an incomparably sour look appeared on his face when Riveria responded in an almost ‘submissive’ manner, “Yes, I will take your words to heart…Master.” It felt like all the nerves in his body had been exposed to the air as a seething rage built up in his heart. He hadn’t expected Riveria to put on an act to this extent and, even though he ‘knew’ she was trying to goad him on, Alosrin could feel nothing but hatred and contempt for this ‘frail’ and ‘weak’ human boy. Even if he was intelligent and had rare magic, having the audacity to ‘allow’ himself to be addressed as Master by Riveria, even if it was just an act, was the most reprehensible thing Alosrin could imagine. Humans were simply a ‘baseline’ race without any exceptional features other than the fact they reproduced like animals. High Elves were several orders of magnitude superior to them so Alosrin couldn’t tolerate this ‘affront’ to their people…

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