The lake Azul is located at the west side of Celuroa Kingdom’s capital Esaia, and it is from this huge lake that the river Azul flows out of.
Along with the eastern river Torres, Esaia has what amounts to a natural moat.
Of course, there being no bridges, these rivers must be crossed using boats.
Consequently, just like in Tellurs, to cross the river one must reserve a boat and wait for three to four days.
Reinhardt –who had parted from Jin and Elsa– had on the 10th of April been stopped on the checking station, then on the 11th of April he had arrived at Dali and ended up waiting for a boat.
And then on the next day, Reinhardt had gone sightseeing around Dali.
“Oh my, Reinhardt-sama.”
A voice called out to Reinhardt who turned around to find the charming bronze-haired and reddish-brown eyed Celuroa Kingdom’s foremost Magi Craftsman, Stearina Gamma.
“Well, look here. Stearina-dono.”
Reinhardt greeted her and Stearina glared at him with upturned eyes.
“My my, hearing such formal language from you makes me feel truly lonely.”
Despite her seductive gestures Reinhardt wasn’t perturbed.
“Oh, please excuse me, Stearina-san”
“Hmm, you are forgiven.”
Stearina said, then looked around restlessly at the surroundings, then asked Reinhardt.
“You’re by yourself today? Not with Jin-kun?”
“Yeah, Jin’s doing something off on his own for a while.”
Reinhardt answered a bit obscurely. Hearing that, Stearina’s face fell and she spoke.
“Is that the case? That’s a bit unfortunate. I really wanted to have a good talk with him.”
With a sarcastic laugh Reinhardt said,
“Sorry, but you’ll have to do with me.”
Stearina then laughed and took a bow towards Reinhardt.
“I’m kidding, Reinhardt-sama. Are you free today? If you’ve got some time, won’t you keep company with me?”
Reinhardt didn’t have any particular plans so he agreed.
“Sure. Do you know anywhere interesting?”
“Ehehe, you can look forward to it.”
Stearina said and smoothly entangled her left arm with Reinhardt’s right one, and they began walking like that.
“Come on in.”
Where Sterina guided Reinhardt was an ordinary house.
A two-storey stone house, you could call it standard for Celuroa Kingdom. The windows were cut out to be on the larger side, and one part of the windows were fitted with glass.
Behind the house was a waterway, apparently connected to the river Azul.
“This is my second home.”
Stearina’s main house was on the other side of river Azul, but apparently she had loaned a house here as returning to the capital would always require a wait of three to four days.
“I use it more than 50 days a year, so it’s cheaper than an inn.”
She said and opened the door, showing Reinhardt in.
“Welcome back, young lady.”
An automata that looked like a butler past his middle age came to greet them.
“I’m back. Zafio, we’ve got guests so please take care of things. Also, stop calling me young lady.”
“As you wish, young lady.”
The Automata said and seemingly went off to do something, disappearing into the back of the house.
Apparently the butler Automata was called Zafio.
“Good grief. No matter how many times I tell him he keeps calling me a young lady, even though I’m already an aunt in my thirties, right?”
However, Reinhardt shook his head and,
“No no, Stearina-san is still a young lady, for sure.”
The reason Zafio kept calling her young lady was surely because of his technical specifications. Stearina had programmed him that way so he could do nothing else. That’s how Reinhardt saw through the situation.
He saw through it, and on top of that managed to flirt with Stearina,.
“Oh my, oh my, you flatter me. I wonder if Reinhardt-sama is experienced with wooing women, unlike Jin-kun?”
“Well, I wonder.”
Reinhardt smoothly exchanged lines. Stearina lightly glared at him.
“My, how odious.”
They had a back-and-forth like that, then Zafio came back.
“The preparations are complete, young lady. Dear guest, this way, please.”
Zafio told them, then Stearina and Reinhardt followed after him.
At the end of the hallway was a room, and Zafio opened the door and,
“Go on in”
He invited the two inside.
In front of them in the spacious room was a large window, and through it a scrupulously maintained garden could be seen. The window surely faced south, as there was plenty of light shining in.
In the middle of the room was a simple yet good-looking round table, on top of which were two cups of Teee faintly emitting steam.
“There’s many things I want to talk to you about. The walls had ears in Egelia Kingdom so the topics we could talk about were very limited, no?”
Reinhardt could hardly fathom the meaning behind those words, so he decided to noncommittally dodge answering.
“Well, we don’t really have that close a relationship, although I do recall us having talked fairly well.”
Stearina then smiled impishly and spoke.
“Oh my, are you being on guard against me?”
She continued further,
“We didn’t really have a good talk regarding the Unifilers, no?”
Even Reinhardt got surprised when she spoke.
“I did tell you the other day that I received an invitation to join the Unifilers, right?”
“Yeah, but wasn’t that something you shouldn’t talk about with people from Egelia Kingdom?”
“I suppose. But I thought it’d be better if I told Reinhardt-sama and Jin-kun about that. But now this is Celuroa Kingdom, and I don’t have to concern myself with Egelia Kingdom.”
Stearina said and finally Reinhardt too was interested in hearing what she had to say.
“The Unifilers came into contact with me about a year ago. I remember them saying something like ‘lend us your strength to change this world’.”
Stearina took a sip of Teee and continued after taking a breather.
“Please think about it, they said and temporarily left, but about five days later they came back, and after that they came every day.”
If Jin was here to hear this, he’d probably think it sounded like a quack religion.
“Each time what they used to persuade me with changed. ‘Money’, ‘political power’, and after that…Oh, right, they even alluded to compensating me with ‘men’. Do you think I’d even want to be rewarded with men?”
Stearina said and laughed.
“I clearly refused about five times. After that the person stopped coming, but as they left they said ‘you will regret this’…”
“How should I say this, what a stereotypical threat.”
Reinhardt too took a sip of the Teee. The aroma was rather pleasant.
“After that, there was a time when I got kidnapped.”
“The details are an embarrassment so please excuse me regarding them. At that time I was rescued by the kingdom’s knights and that’s why I’m here and safe.”
“So that’s how it was…”
Reinhardt thought that then what happened to Elsa wasn’t a single occurrence.
“Today two knights of the kingdom should be guarding me secretly.”
“I hadn’t noticed.”
That was somewhat expected for Reinhardt who wasn’t a military officer.
“And so Reinhardt-sama, you’re also in the same position as I was, so please try to be a bit more aware of it.”
“I suppose so…”
After that the two continued with some small talk. The topics were all around, and it was apparent that Stearina had wanted to once more meet with Jin to talk about all kinds of things.
＊ ＊ ＊
“And that’s how it was.”
Reinhardt’s long story was over with that.
“Be careful, alright?”
“Yeah, I’ll make sure not to take strolls by myself after this.”
“Mh-hm, you do that.”
With that, Reinhardt hung up his hotline(?) for the day.