Testing waters, waters testing
Alright, to begin with, I'd like to know her price.
Ignoring Her———Ilya's, it seems, imploring gaze, I erased my expressions.
I'm not going to be overcharged here.
Even if I don't have the money in the first place.
Buying everything at the price it's offered at is too Japanese.
This is another world.
"I see. She certainly is pretty. But doesn't she seem a bit listless?"
"That's because not even a week has passed since we procured her. It must still be difficult for her to accept the reality of the situation."
That's really recent.
"However, she knows etiquette from before. She's not just some town girl."
Like that he nonchalantly raised her value.
That I directly went and asked to see her was a mistake, but I'd like to keep the stance that I don't have to buy her no matter what.
At least superficially.
"Hmm, that's what it means."
He didn't even twitch.
Well, of course, no matter what a little girl like me says, he far surpasses me in experience.
"As an adventurer, I think it's better if I'm accompanied by a girl. However, if she can't fight, I'd be troubled, too. Would she have combat experience?"
Well, even if she doesn't, the demand from customers other than me should be high.
From men, you know?
"I see. Why don't you take a look at her Attributes then?"
He seems really confident, from his reply.
Let's have a look at those Attributes.
"Of course. Convincing the customer and making him happy is this firm's policy, Miss. Fraud is something only third-rates stoop to."
He's sure making a real job of it.
Signaled by the eye-patched man, Blackie guided Her to my side.
There, she showed her Status with Attributes only.
So they aren't showing me all at once.
Step by step, is it.
Strength 1, Endurance 3, Protection 5, Agility 1, Mind 0
This is too different from her appearance and impression!
"How is it? The one-sidedness isn't very praiseworthy, but I believe she completely fulfills your needs, Miss."
I unintentionally stared at her.
"It would be my pleasure, Milady."
She bashfully talking to me is actually indomitable, like a raspberry shaken in the wind.
The stalk is full of thorns, but the white petals bloom so very neatly and sweetly.
Other worlds, incredible.
The gap between appearance and ability is too big.
Where in that slender body of hers does she hide that sturdiness?
"... it seems so."
While reacting to Her reverence by lightly raising my hand, I thought.
If I have her, won't she become my shield even if Shion-san is not around?
Rather, speaking of becoming a shield, I can't think of anyone being more suited.
I want her.
No, now I really want her.
Seeing the real thing really does drive up your desire to buy it."But she doesn't have any combat experience, does she?"
I was persistently asking the eye-patched man, not the girl next to me.
I can't have them take me lightly.
Meaning she is a level one apprentice, huh.
"Of course you can change it, but she is currently a Lancer."
Of course I can change it. Is that so?
"Do you want to confirm it?"
"No need. I trust you, Mister."
I composedly smiled.
I've become thick-skinned, too.
I can't manage it in front of Shion-san no matter what, but maybe I'm someone who can really put up a strong front?
(However, so far I haven't found a serious demerit. If anything, she's gathering points?)
Then it's time for a leading question, I think.
"I see. I've gotten a good grasp of her value."
She's completely unrefined, but there couldn't be a better raw gem.
That's how it is.
"——This girl's not an elf, is she?"
The eye-patched man's mild smile deepened even further.
As if to say he liked the question.
"As expected, Miss. You are not swayed by outward appearance alone."
"Of course not."
Of course not my ass.
"Elven slaves are scarce. I want to obtain some even if I have to go to some length, but currently I don't have any."
I'm not an elf, okay?
Although I definitely won't show you my Status.
But... what do I do?
Do I push on, even if it's dangerous?
"... If I said I have some connection to elves——— would that draw your interest?"
Not only Eyepatch, even the black-clothed man's atmosphere changed.
Crap, don't get violent, okay?
I still didn't eradicate my smile.
"I thought you weren't a just a sheltered, young lady, but this is a surprise."
The eye-patched man placed his elbows on the table and intertwined his fingers.
"Is that story true?"
"Let's say I cannot make definite promises."
"Of course not. It's elves we're talking about. Still, very intriguing."
Let's hope this doesn't cause any trouble between humans and elves.
"I thought you'd say so. But, let's keep today's conversation focused on this girl, shall we?"
At any rate, I'm suddenly down to only one card I can play.
Because I only have one trump card, right now.
The suicidal act of revealing my Status.
"Hehe, you got me there, Miss. I underestimated you just a bit. It's been a while since I've had such an enjoyable negotiation. Including your fairness to the eyes, Miss."
"Why thank you."
I cast down my eyes and calmly smiled.
For some reason, I could hear the girl next to me make a little, admiring sound.
"Then, shall we release her Status? Including her race, that is."
"No, it's fine. Let's confirm that for when we make the final contract."
I softly rejected the eye-patched man's proposal.
Stop cornering me already.
I still have absolutely no concrete idea how to obtain her.
"Is that so. Let's stop beating around the bush then. This firm has set her price to be 500.000 Rook... is what I would like to say, but."
There the eye-patched man cut off his words and smiled at me.
"I'm dealing with you here, Miss. What do you think about specially making it 400.000 Rook?"
"I think that's a fair price."
"Today, since the beginning I came here only to look at her, but is she always here? Because I also heard she is a prize?"
I glanced at the black-clothed man.
I thought he was expressionless, so why does he stare at me with such a mean look in the eyes!
No, he's had that mean look in the eyes in the first place, so he's normal right now?
"We intended to use her as a prize for the combat tournament in the royal capital's coliseum. But well, we have replacements. If you buy her here, now, there's not much of a problem."
"I see, in the coliseum."
That also gets the adrenaline flowing.
But in that case———
"Then, if I participate and become the champion, I can also obtain her, correct?"
The eye-patched man couldn't bear it any more and laughed out loudly while slapping his knees.
"Hah, apologies. You are absolutely right, Miss. Truly interesting, you are."
"Well, I can also see how selling her for more to the coliseum, making her a prize, is more advantageous for you, Mister."
Become a champion at the combat tournament or earn 400.000 Rook, just what is more realistic, huh.
Keeping my composed smile, I stood up.
"Hehe, either way, I won't think of it as a loss. If I can deal with a personage such as you, Miss."
The eye-patched man also stood up and signaled the black-clothed man to escort me out.
Blackie opened the door I'd come in through.
"It is business practice not to exchange names with first-time customers, but I would like to introduce myself regardless."The eye-patched man bowed with the elegance reminiscent of a butler.
"Bertrand is my name. It was a pleasure making your acquaintance, Miss."
"Alice. This was a valuable conversation. Let's talk again, Bertrand-sama."
I concisely answered, calmly bowed and headed towards the door.
In passing, I met Her eyes just once.
For some reason, she was blushing.
...let's pretend I didn't hear that.
"I'll make you mine. I've decided."
I whispered her just that.
After passing her, I felt a stare against my back.
"Y-yes! I'm looking forward to it, Lady Alice!"
I got through my grandstand play.
From here on out, I'm flying blind.
Probably nobody in this room knew these thoughts going through my head.