TL note: heartfelt thanks to Christian Bote and Dona(rg)tions, each of whom donated ten euros for this series!
The Princess’ magic trainer and the special researcher
I let Verlaine take care of the bar in my absence, prepared what I had to and took the wagon to the Magic Academy.
Pollon was sitting again on the other side of the reception desk, and although it was only the third time I saw her, she greeted me with a smile.
“Good afternoon, Mister Duke. Currently, Professor Mylarka is in her room.”
“Hi, thank you.”
She kept calling me that, but I couldn’t just tell her that name was fake, so I let it be. I used it for helping Timis and now many people were aware that this guy called Duke existed for real.
Maybe it was better if I used that name for my research on the fire dragons’ routine. I didn’t know if the Magic academy was interested in it, but I wanted to hear Mylarka’s opinion about it… although she’d probably care only about magic-related researches.
Before I could walk away from the reception desk, I heard Pollon commenting out loud.
“Ohoooh…! How adorable! I can’t believe a man is bringing lunch and sweets to a girl~! I’m fed up with the tasteless food I eat at the academy’s mess hall.”
“Don’t you cook for yourself? If you want, I can make someone deliver you something to eat every day.”
“Really? If you’re serious, I might really accept, you know?”
“Can’t you just take the chance to grab some food from the delivery guy?”
“I’d love to, but I understand that you’re saying it only because you’re kind, Mister Duke.”
It would be normal to request the daily delivery of food, especially if what you eat is tasteless.
“I appreciate the thought, but as tempted as I am right now, if your cooking was really that good, I’d have trouble getting back to normal food, so I’ll pass for now.”
“Let me know when you’d like to try it. I don’t think it tastes great, but I’m sure it’d be great for a light meal, like the snack at three o’clock.”
“That’d be perfect. If you push yourself this much for Professor Mylarka, you must find her very attractive, don’t you?”
“N-No? I can’t deny she is, but we don’t feel that kind of mutual attraction. We only understand each other.”
“Is that so? Oh, I should let you go now. I shouldn’t stop you for long. Enjoy your time here.”
Pollon waved at me and I headed to the laboratory.
The next moment, Mylarka popped out from the hallway’s corner.
She was glaring at me coldly, and I had the feeling that she had been doing it for a while.
“…I knew it. Acting cool and friendly is your style, huh?”
“Well, yeah, but I was talking about business.”
“Liar. Didn’t she tell you that she wants to eat something good because the mess hall’s food is horrible? She’s been interested in your cooking ever since I gave her some of your sweets.”
“I see. So, now the stuff I cook is palatable? That was the first time I gave you something, though. The more I’ll keep doing it, the more the quality will rise. I don’t like delivering the same thing twice.”
Changing the menu every day was one of my obsessions, but I had to abandon the idea after a hundred days. I rotated the seasonal ingredients to come up with something new every time, but I understood that clients were already more than satisfied.
Still, this was only the third time I brought Mylarka food. Compared to the cookies I brought her the first time, the three-layered sandwiches I currently had with me should’ve been better. They contained meat, seafood, cream and some fresh fruit. I thought they might’ve been too heavy, so I kept them small and only prepared two. I’d gladly finish the leftovers once I got back home.
“Still, when we talk about cooking, your eyes shine brightly… did you really want to become a cook this much?”
“It’s only my hobby, and I don’t back down from cooking for my customers at the bar.”
“Isn’t it contradictory? It’s only a hobby but you act like a pro… Right, since today Manarina is coming over, might I share some with her?”
“Of course. I planned to bring home the leftovers and eat them myself, but feel free to finish them yourselves.”
“…Sometimes you’re so kind you’re almost scary. I’d almost feel better if you had a hidden reason, honestly.”
“Let me be frank, I like watching girls stuffing their face happily.”
“Wh…?! L-Looking and not touching isn’t bad in itself, but you do know that feeling happy from seeing someone eating makes you a pervert, right?! Do I have to teach you everything, you donkey?!”
Why did I feel more relaxed now that she used her sharp tongue again? Was I getting used to her insults?
When we reached the laboratory, Mylarka shared some food with Manarina who was waiting outside. Since she often dropped by my shop, I saw her eating what I prepared plenty of times, but now she was so happy that it made me feel better too.
“How can bread taste this good…? What on earth have I been eating so far…?”
I guessed she was studying until a few minutes ago, given that her brunette hair was tied behind her back. She usually left it down, so it was refreshing to see her in this look.
Even Mylarka had her hair tied in two different braids and it had been a while since I last saw her doing it, although it wasn’t like she never did it. I guessed it was annoying when her long hair hung in front of her or ended up stuck in her books while she was studying.
“Mmmh…! Yum! Mhh… Wait, don’t I look like I’m being fed after working hard like some pet?”
“Well, if you don’t eat, your brain won’t work. There’s also some fruit left for later.”
“Mylarka, I did not know you asked someone to bring you food… Despite it being shameful, I still am envious of it being so good…”
“If I don’t bring her better things, she will soon grow tired of it.”
“Oh my, how scary… I lost myself for a moment back there.”
“I am almost hoping for the next time you will come here, Sir Dick. Might I tag along with you when the time comes?”
“Sure, Manarina. You’re one of this seminar’s students, right?”
“H-Hey, stop accepting clients so easily. I was letting you bring me food as a sign of gratitude…”
Now that Mylarka mentioned it, it had been a while since last time I wrote a new name in my food delivery customer list.
“…Do whatever you want as long as I’m not affected by it, but try to not get too busy, okay?”
“Yeah, sure. I can’t stay away from my guild for too long either since I feel sorry for leaving others doing stuff I should handle.”
“Does this mean that you allow me to benefit from your service? Thank you very much, Sir Dick.”
Well, it was only obvious that I’d have accepted her as a customer, since she was a princess and first heir of this kingdom.
Thinking about it, Vinceburg aimed at the throne again, but I didn’t know if she had an understanding of what happened.
“My sisters, as well as me and my mother, are heir to the throne, but Jean advanced a marriage proposal to my eight-years-old sister… even my father, who wanted to strengthen the bond between our families, was shocked by that. After that, we discovered that Vinceburg’s family was causing a massive problem, and that left a sour taste in our mouth.”
Despite one’s status, someone should choose their soulmate by itself. Manarina knew that she had a duty bestowed on her by her princess status, but I believed that she shouldn’t ignore her feelings, although I understood that was but an immature thought.
“The best is living as you want. When it becomes hard for you, come to me for a new request.”
“T-That is… You already did something for me that I could never repay in my whole life. I cannot keep relying on…”
“Don’t worry, Manarina. Even if you think you’re bothering him, this guy actually loves helping people.”
“I’d spare myself from doing bothersome stuff, but your problems weren’t anything like that, so don’t worry.”
If I could change her life with a request, I wanted to take responsibility to save her again in the future. It was better if things remained calm and nothing happened, but Silver mug was ready to take another request anytime.
“…If that is what you think, Sir Dick, I will not speak any further. I feel so—”
“Dick, Manarina can’t study when you’re around. This might worsen her GPA and it also means that you’re ruining her life. Start to help her now.”
“I’m bad at studying, but magic is my field of expertise, so I guess I can try.”
“Really? I sealed a contract with fire spirits, but I still can’t cast Firefly…”
“This might be due to the lack of exercise. Let me see how you do it.”
“O-Okay. Give me a minute, without my notes I do not remember the spell…”
Did she always do that? And did Mylarka always allow her to? As I glanced at her teacher, I couldn’t help but think that red glasses suited her very well thanks to her blonde hair; instead, on the student’s nose were placed rimless ones.
“O blazing spirits, I invoke you in the name of Manarina Lyra Albein! Light a small flame in front of me…”
“Your magic power isn’t working along with the spirits’. Let’s start from there. I’ll help for once so that you can feel how it should be.”
“Oh… Okay. Thank you in advance, Sir Dick.”
Even some of my guild members didn’t know how to use magic at first, but they only needed to understand what to do.
Although they had sealed contracts with spirits, their magic power didn’t connect with theirs, so they didn’t know the necessary steps or the feeling that led them to cast spells, and many ended up thinking they just weren’t cut out for it.
Manarina was in the same situation. I placed my hand on her head and cast Elemental Rise, a support magic that temporarily rose the target’s affinity with spirits.
“This feeling… I did not know that spirits lived all around us…”
“Yeah, Spirit Magic is founded on a thing called ‘elemental core’, which can be stimulated to raise specific spirits’ power. Try to call it before your spell.”
“Okay… O blazing spirits, I invoke you in the name of Manarina Lyra Albein! Gather in front of me—Elemental core!”
The air was dense with fire spirits and Mylarka, who knew Spirit Magic’s theory but still didn’t learn it, voiced her doubt.
“If she tries to use Firefly now, wouldn’t it explode?”
“Firefly isn’t a strong spell. It will only burn brighter.”
I looked at Manarina, whose expression was tense and nervous, then nodded. She should’ve been able to cast her spell now.
“…O blazing spirits, I invoke you in the name of Manarina Lyra Albein! Light a small flame in front of me—Firefly!”
When she finished chanting the formula, the spirits gathered in front of her hand ignited, giving birth to a small ball of fire that floated and swayed into the air before vanishing.
“I-I did it…! Sir Dick, Mylarka, I used magic!”
“Wah! W-Why are you squeezing me?! I didn’t even help you!”
“C’mon, what’s the problem? It’s not like I’m gonna charge you for this or anything.”
“N-No… I just cannot count on you all the time, yet you helped me again. How could I ever repay you…?”
“If I keep helping you in applying Spirit Magic, will I become one of Mylarka’s pupils?”
“W-Where does that come from…? I can let you help me in my researches if you really want to…”
I already worked with her during our expedition, so I shouldn’t have had any problems.
Then, the girls spoke again.
“As disgraceful as it is to say this in front of you, I am looking forward to it.”
“What are you looking forward to, precisely? Listen, Dick, if you send me any kind of report, you’d become famous. Can you come up with something to avoid that?”
“Yeah, sure. Now I can use this academy’s library and look at your experiments and researches. This sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?”
That’s how a new student—Duke Solver—was added to Mylarka’s seminary registry.
The report I wrote under that name, “magic aptitude’s existence criteria and how to approach magic”, became a sort of sacred book for the students who couldn’t use magic.
Since explaining how I did things my way worked very well, I was asked to teach a course, “Approaching magic”, but I obviously declined. I couldn’t just wear a mask to disguise myself, neither I wanted to use magic to change my look, so I just left my report there and hoped that students could go through it by themselves.
In the end, I wasn’t a teacher like Mylarka, and I wanted to be left alone.
“If you make your study on fire dragons public, I think the royal family would send some scouts to find you and ask you to become their personal researcher.”
“If you say that, I feel like I’ll keep that for myself. Relaxing is the best.”
“…Next time you write something, let me see it. In exchange, I’ll let you see my researches.”
Being present in her lessons wasn’t bad at all.
As I bit my tongue while looking at a thesis that only Mylarka could put into practice, I wrote a report about “calculating large building’s center of gravity and how to destroy them efficiently”. I couldn’t just tell her to research something that anyone could actually apply.