The expression on Veran's face changed, even with how difficult it is to discern him, I realized in an instant, the conversation became serious.
"Iren's soldiers are looking for something in the city ... And do you think it is the piece of metal that I am looking for?"
"I don't have much information about them, but if it's something that caught your attention, it might be that. Can you tell me exactly what caught your attention in that piece of metal?"
"Well, the rumors are that it has an exceptionally polished luster, so much that it doesn't seem made by human hands, and it doesn't show marks from any blacksmith's hammering, a precision job that surpasses any expert. Above all, it has a gap, as if it were a piece to assemble something".
"Do you suspect it's an AS artifact?"
"In the past AS artifacts have been found which were in fact pieces of a larger artifact, so the description of such an object did not immediately catch my attention. Although I think it is more than that. It's not possible that a piece like that one can maintain a shape so polished for a thousand years. Either it is a kind of metal like it has never been seen, or we are dealing with something recently created. I need to see that piece with my own eyes, only then can I determine the truth".
"Well, it would be a good idea if we could continue the search, but I don't know if it's worth the risk. We have to gather what you need to work the arcor steel, so that we can leave the city without delay when the time comes".
"Iren's soldiers are a constant danger".
"It's worse than that. I know from a good source that there are people trying to make a fuss, they will surely do it tomorrow during the slave auction. We must have everything ready to leave Garush at that time".
Veran stood up, his eyes stared at nothing for a moment and then landed on me, finally focused on the door.
"There is someone outside, if the justice officials were alerted, this is a bad time for them to intervene, I will distract them while you put the coins away".
"Ah! Do not worry, they are my subordinates. In addition to those you have already met, I have one or two others at my service, after you agreed to work for me, I asked one of my men to go find my secretary. While you were in shock to be exact".
"I understand. Even so, I am surprised that an officer has not yet appeared to question your abrupt entry into the house. I chose this place so close to the commercial plaza, despite wanting to remain hidden, due to the high security of the area ... "
"About that. Considering that their senior officer put himself at my service, rather than questioning my actions, they would offer to help".
"Eh? ... The bailiffs ... do they work for you !?"
"Not for me. Let's just say that it wouldn't occur to them to oppose me, no matter what I do, even if it's giving them orders".
"I see ... Now I'm not surprised that despite being so cautious, you forced your way into the house in broad daylight. No one was going to interfere anyway".
"It's called efficiency. There was no reason to waste time and effort convincing you to let us in, and as I said before, I didn't want to say anything else while being on the street, there are eyes and ears everywhere".
"Lord Argent, Zera is here".
"Let him in".
Once the door was opened, Zera entered with his typical expression of shyness and nervousness, like the time of the invasion in Galia ... What did they say to make him look like this? It is a mystery that I am not interested in solving.
"This is my secretary Zera, just tell him what you need and ..."
Suddenly, Veran prostrates himself in front of Zera, almost as if he were royalty, his reaction was much greater than what he did in front of me. Even I wasn't able to continue speaking calmly after seeing what was happening.
"I, Veran of the Nox of Gray Mine, thus show my respect, in the name of Ashma".
Zera's nervous demeanor flared at such demonstration. He is not reacting according to what I had anticipated, in this situation he should be much more surprised ... Suspicious.
"E-Eto ... C-Can you lift your head? And you don't have to kneel ... you've already shown enough respect".
"Hah! Thank you for recognizing my show of respect, child of Ashma".
Mmm? What did he just say? I can't just ignore that word.
"Veran, can you tell me why you associate Zera with Ashma? What is this about?"
"Eh? Well ... it is the traditional show of respect towards the children of Ashma. Among the elves it is a deeply rooted custom, so much so that we all follow it. I know that the common people do not, but ... Not all the nobles know about this? "
What a mistake, in my curiosity I said something I shouldn't. Is every noble supposed to know what it is about? No. It's not as if such a thing as "Everyone knows" can be applied, there are always exceptions.
"Well, the truth is that I inherited the position of head of the family at an early age, my parents did not live long enough to teach me everything".
After what I said, the atmosphere became a little uncomfortable ... For some reason, Zera showed me a gesture of deep compassion.
"I-I see, well ... As you can see, she has green hair. That is the same color that they say Ashma had. The color has been synonymous with life and holiness, and from time to time, someone is born with that hair .Deity believers call them children of Ashma and consider them blessed. Although it doesn't get to the point of being worshiped, it is a custom to show respect the first time we are before one. Not because we believe that they are blessed, but because they are a representation of Ashma, it is like showing respect to a statue, nobody believes that the statue is sacred or something like that".
EH? Does that mean that the day I met Zera I should have shown respect?
I knew that it was likely to make key mistakes by not knowing the culture of the place, but since no one was suspicious I did not pay too much attention. Of course, I decided to leave before they noticed the obvious abnormality. I brought Zera with me because I did not think he would notice (unlike the director, who may have already noticed), but now an error was revealed that not even I was aware of.
"Well, it's not as if everyone follows the custom. There are many nobles who do not believe in the deity, and they would even tear down the Ashma temples that are in their territories if that would not provoke the discontent of their people".
Great assistance Captain. I will have to take extreme precautions to avoid more inconsistencies like this to show again in what I say or do.
Without giving much importance to what happened, I instructed Zera to take care of finding everything Veran needs to do his job. Once the goods are located, he only need to ask them to reserve them in my name and note which merchant made the order. So, then I can go pick them up without wasting time.
After a couple of days of shopping I am already known among merchants, just like my close subordinates (those who were known to work for me, as intended), there will be no problem with booking purchases on my behalf.
With that settled. I must think what action I will take on the matter of the rebel revolt.
Which side can bring more benefits?
It seems that the obvious answer would be Garonte, but he has a too good position and he doesn't really need me, besides his boss in the shadows gives me a bad feeling. While if I save the rebels, they will be even more indebted to me than the inhabitants of Galia and the mercenaries, which would potentially give me complete control over them, but if they are a group of incompetent fools who are about to commit such idiocy as provoking the Irenits, they are probably not worth it ...
As I pondered this, I let some mercenaries accompany Zera as he carried out his assignment. The rest would come with me, it was time to talk to Garonte about the events of tomorrow. Probably the best thing to do is to support Garonte, after all.
"Oh! Lord Argent! It is a pleasure to see you".
"Thank you for receiving me so suddenly, how are your injuries doing?"
"Oh, no problem. It's always an honor to receive you, and I'm glad for your interest, but you shouldn't worry about me".
Heh, his attitude towards me has been like this since "he swore loyalty to me". Although he tries, he shouldn't exaggerate so much, he's lousy when it comes to these things ... Well, his specialty is the military area, not acting.
"Ah, what a failure on my part, I will immediately have you carry out the necessary preparations. I cannot give you such a poor reception".
As much as he tries to show his good side, I know that he is only trying to make me feel like I put him at my mercy, while actually trying to manipulate me. He will surely suggest something that sounds convenient to me, when it is to him. You may think that my presence at the slave auction is an exceptional security boost, but you don't know that your attention should be somewhere else.
Observing the spectacle of Garonte degrading before me, a group of beautiful women arrived carrying trays with delicacies and drinks. One of them, particularly voluptuous, served me what looked like an expensive bottle of alcohol, while another couple brought glasses to the captain and my other companions.
It's funny to see Ryuuji feel the pressure of women who insist that he drink, ignoring the fact that he doesn't know what they are saying, although he can obviously infer it.
Although this has little effect on me, there is no reason to reject his "good will". So I decided to recreate myself in the delicacy of the drink, while the women around me try to gain my attention ...
Gugh! I feel a little dizzy ... Wait a minute, I felt this way before, when was it?
My head ... I feel like it's going to explode! Gaagh! This is...
I find myself on a bench in the trading plaza, with Ren and Ryuuji sitting next to me and the captain watching a few steps away, the other members of the Argent Guard remain at a distance, trying to keep people away. It is good to sit and get fresh air, you need air to think.
Let's see ... For now I didn't reveal what I know about the rebels to Garonte, so I can still choose either side, but ... Why not both?
Depending on how things unfold, the opportunity may come to bring both sides under my control. That Ruthen boy seemed easy to manipulate, is of the influenceable type, I should try to get in touch with him.
"Captain Rad, that was?"
"Yes. It was like the last time, lord Argent had what looked like an attack and was knocked unconscious, and now he wakes up and acts as if nothing had happened".
"How many times are with this?"
"It is the third perhaps, although it could have happened several times before I met him. I thought it had stopped, it only happened once since we left Galia, so I thought he was better".
"Maybe it's because he needs fresh air? On the trip it happened only once, but now it happens again, just a day after arriving in town".
"Perhaps it is a collateral effect of his great power? Considering how he defeated the Iren commander in an instant. Such strength must come at a cost to the body".
"At first I thought he said he needed us just to make us feel useful. But seeing him like this, I realize that we really must do our duty. We can't expect him to protect us always. If he has an attack in the middle of a fight it would be fatal".