Chapter 14: Trouble with a Lesser Nobleman (Part 1)
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Luckily, Gugger did not keep Saleen waiting for long. Although he was also from Ceylon City, Saleen had not seen him before.
Gugger looked to be about thirty-four or thirty-five years old, with a face typical of a nobleman from the North. He had a wide forehead and his brown eyes were neither large nor deep-set, unlike that of those from the South. His blond hair was tied in a wavy fashion that resembled a flame, making him appear even younger.
He was more than a head taller than Saleen and almost 1.9 meters in height. His thick shoulders were quite obviously not made of fat, and his wide palms did not appear delicate. Both were testaments that the viscount had not given up his pursuit of the martial arts and practiced it occasionally.
“Mage Saleen!” Gugger warmly enveloped Saleen in a hug. Saleen frowned. He realized what that strange smell had been; it was Gugger’s cologne.
“Lord Viscount.” Saleen took two steps back and saluted.
The two of them sat down. Gugger said, “Sorry to have kept you waiting. I was meeting some people from the South.”
“Lord Viscount, please be forthcoming about what you require of me. The payment you are offering is too much. I do not understand.” Saleen wanted to dispose of the formalities; he wanted those few thousand gold coins, no matter what it took.
After a quick evaluation, Viscount Gugger decided not to beat around the bush with Saleen. He said, “Then I shall be direct. I plan to eliminate pirates during the winter. Your teacher was not willing to come along so I decided to seek your help instead.”
Saleen laughed. “My Lord, you must be pulling my leg.”
Gugger said solemnly, “I know you are still an apprentice, but I am not asking you to kill any enemies this time. I just hope you can make some restorative water for the sailors on board. You may not have learned Grade 1 magic yet and I should not make this request of you. But with the troops at sea, many will be sick or even die during these two to three months. Hence, I hope you can help.”
Saleen kept quiet. He was a Grade 3 apprentice and because of his strong mental power, he was just barely able to learn a Grade 1 spell. He had intended to learn the elementary Fireball skill, the most commonly used method of attack among Grade 1 magic.
Restorative water was a type of auxiliary magic, and about one hundred and twenty grams of medicinal water could be produced. Whether ingested or applied, it worked well, and while it did not work exceptionally fast, it had no aftereffects and was harmless.
If Saleen were a Grade 1 mage, such a request would not be a tall order. But Saleen was only a mere apprentice and only could learn a single Grade 1 spell. Before he became a qualified mage, he would have no chance of learning another Grade 1 spell after this.
If a mage skipped a grade to learn these spells, it would determine the direction of magic the mage progressed in during their future advancement. The earlier one learned a spell, the more familiar one would be with it. Upon advancement, the speed of release for the spell would increase.
“Saleen, I know this is asking too much of an apprentice, hence you must accept this payment for the request.” Gugger retrieved that small box, causing Saleen’s heart to stir again.
“Why not hire a holy master?” Saleen had to question further.
“Senior holy masters are too costly. Besides, divine spells need to be released on the spot. If any problems were to arise, they may incur the wrath of the Holy See. It would be different for you. You can stay with me on the largest battleship and won’t be at any risk.”
“When do we start?” Saleen took the box indifferently, and stuffed it into his leather bag without opening it.
Gugger heaved a sigh of relief, and said with smile, “The end of the year. It is still early. Today we have two guests visiting from other cities. Please stay for a meal.”
Saleen was relieved as well. The money was finally in his hands; it had been unbearable for him up until now.
“I ordered an outfit to be made for you. Would you like to change into it?”
Saleen looked at the robe on him, and finally understood. As the clothing was not made-to-measure for him, it was too big and worn out. Jason did not pay attention to such things. To him, people would respect you no matter what you wore. If Saleen were to stay for dinner, he would need to show the viscount proper respect.
“Mage Saleen, follow us,” the two maidservants giggled as they led Saleen out of the small living hall.
Following the maidservants to the guest room, Saleen saw that the clothing prepared for him had been placed on the table. He shooed the two maidservants out, not allowing them to wait on him. Although the fifteen year old youth had some urges after looking at their bosoms, there were more important matters at hand.
After bolting the door, Saleen immediately retrieved the small box from his leather bag and opened it.
Light from the nuclei shot out, temporarily blinding Saleen. After putting the nuclei into the money bag he had prepared and attaching the bag to his waist, Saleen took out the stack of Qin Empire bank notes from the box.
Each note was worth a thousand gold coins, and there were five of them in total.
Saleen grasped the notes in his hand. He felt like laughing, but was afraid the maidservants would hear him. If only he knew a mute enchantment… Saleen counted the bank notes a few times and then stuffed them into the interlayer of his belt.
The two maidservants held their breaths and pressed their ears against the door. They could not hear anything. What was this little mage doing? Only then did Saleen remove his own robe and replace it with the clothing Viscount Gugger had prepared for him.
It was a white robe, modeled after the style of a mage’s robe. The belt was tucked around the waist on the inside of the robe. The robe was made with exquisite workmanship, using quality Qin Empire silk.
It was a pity this was not magic silk, and could not help keep his magic constant. The fine, thick silk was indeed beautiful. Its base was silvery white, and embroidered with magic patterns.
There was a magic staff on the table. It was an authentic piece. Saleen picked up the magic staff to feel its magic affinity but was slightly disappointed by what he found. Viscount Gugger had already exhausted it quite a bit, and although this magic staff was of the cheapest kind, it was worth at least a few hundred gold coins.
Saleen gave it some thought, then took out a black metal ring from his leather bag. It was not a piece of magic equipment, but more of a weight used when practicing magic gestures. It was for the purpose of deceiving the unknowing, as the simpler the item, the more difficult it would be for them to figure out what it was.
He looked at his reflection wearing new clothes in the mirror. The skinny, sallow youth he had been had disappeared. The youth in the mirror had a pair of gleaming brown eyes and was taller than before. Using the magic staff, Saleen struck a pose as though he were releasing a spell.
The two maidservants were eavesdropping behind the door but still could not hear a thing. After more than ten minutes, Saleen opened the door suddenly. The two maidservants, caught by surprise, fell into the room at the same time.
Saleen laughed, and pulled one of them along in each of his hands, saying, “Come, let us go meet with Lord Viscount.”
The two maidservants turned bright red in embarrassment, and dashed off before him hurriedly. They could not fathom what Saleen had been up to in the room; there was nary a sound made. Furthermore, this little mage’s hands were warm to the touch.
No matter how extravagant the lifestyles of the noblemen in the North were, they made sure to maintain certain traditions concerning food. Saleen entered the dining hall and saw a large table in the center. On the table was a copper brazier topped with an iron mesh, and surrounding the copper brazier were Qin Empire porcelain plates. There was raw meat on a porcelain plate almost two feet long. Silver cutlery was placed next to each plate.
There was neither rhyme nor reason to such an arrangement, but even the particular Qin Empire folk would not object to this. The Sikeqinya people, being the nouveau riche, would probably take another two thousand years to develop refined tastes.
The meat carving knife was razor sharp. In the Tangulasi Empire, such cutlery could never appear in a nobleman’s dining hall.
Saleen casually glanced at the guests who were already seated. The beautiful voluptuous lady must have been Lady Viscount. Although he had never seen her before, he had often heard about her. The two unfamiliar guests must have been the foreigners. Saleen’s nose twitched. There was no smell of fish from them.
“Mage Saleen, allow me to introduce you…” The young Lady Viscount spontaneously volunteered to introduce the two foreigners, since by now Gugger was seated in the host’s seat. Her tone made it sound as though the two of them were well-acquainted.
“This is Baron Rick from Krudya City, and this is Baron Minghui from Metropolitan City.” Lady Viscount was young and beautiful. Dressed in formal noble attire with her waist bound, she looked even more well-endowed. Towards the two young barons, she was far from shy and very lively.
Rick pretended to look steadily forward, maintaining an elegant demeanor. His gaze would linger for an extra second or two when he looked at Lady Viscount’s bosom. Gugger acted as though he did not notice. He was confident in his wife, who would not be attracted to a lowly baron.
Baron Minghui appeared to disregard Lady Viscount’s introduction, and looked at Saleen with his lips curled in disdain.
“Mage Saleen? Pretty young, huh. I wonder if you know how to release the Fireball spell?”
Seeing Baron Minghui’s attitude, Saleen was tempted to move forward and give him a few slaps. This way, he could quell his anger and also save his magic power. However, as there was a stone-faced swordsman right behind the baron, Saleen would be on the losing side if there were a fight.
Viscount Gugger gave his lady a pinch on the thigh under the table. Lady Viscount understood the hint and interjected, “Mage Saleen, please excuse Baron Minghui’s impoliteness. We are common folk and are very curious about magic.”
“Magic is not used for showing off,” Saleen said icily, not having understood Baron Minghui’s intentions.
“Tsk…” Baron Minghui sneered, his triangular-shaped head resembling a type of gecko. He asked in a taunting manner, “What showing off? Could Mage Saleen be lacking confidence in his own abilities?”
Metropolitan City had flourished in the last two years. He had come to Ceylon City mainly to show off his wealth. Unexpectedly, Gugger had brought out a mage, causing him to lose face. Even the senior swordsman behind him paled in comparison.
“Baron Minghui has a large ring,” Saleen sighed softly, not continuing his sentence but only touching his own black metal ring.
Baron Minghui’s face swelled and turned red. The ring on his finger had a magnificently large thirty-two-facet gem, but it could not be compared to a mage’s ring at all.
True noblemen would not attempt to anger a mage. Even if the mage was of a lowly grade, he could still bring about much trouble.
Baron Minghui was from a small area, and had never seen a mage. He had few concerns, and after holding back for a long while, finally spoke, “So as long as one has a white robe, one is a mage.”
Saleen chuckled softly, and said, “Baron Minghui seems to think that those who are able to release fireballs are mages. Although I can understand your ignorance, I cannot stand to accept it.”