“Papa, can we really not take him in?” asked Leah, while tugging on my hand and looking at outside feeling it was a pity. “Leah thinks he’s pitiful… He’s in the same situation as Leah was back then… No parents or family… Having to ask someone else to take us in… Papa, let’s take him in. Leah wants to have a younger brother, too.’
I looked down at Leah, and she looked back. Seemingly afraid I’d be angry, she quickly added, “Papa, Leah was just making a suggestion. If we can’t, then don’t worry, Papa…”
“Leah, do you feel that Papa is a man without any sympathy for others?’
Leah firmly shook her head: “Of course not! Papa adopted Leah! Papa is the gentlest person in this world. How could Papa be someone without sympathy…? It’s just… just… Leah is slightly wilful… Leah doesn’t know what Papa wants… so… so…”
“Leah, it’s not that Papa doesn’t want to accept him. Taking him in would just mean feeding another mouth. We’ve taken in elves, so I wouldn’t be prejudiced against an anthropoid. It’s just that someone once tried to fool Papa with a pupil in the past, which is why Papa is cautious now. None of us know anthropoids; we only know that Achilles sent him. Therefore, Papa doesn’t dare to take him in. There are many ways he could harm us when he’s with Papa.”
“But… But Mr. Achilles is Papa’s friend, isn’t he?” questioned Leah, confounded. “Mr. Achilles helped Papa a lot, didn’t he? He provided us with lodging before…”
I couldn’t resist the urge to laugh. Achilles and I… our relationship is rather complex. There’s no such thing as pure friendship between businessmen. It’s a fact that we were all cognisant of. Achilles and I weren’t friends. At most, I considered him someone useful to me, while he believed that he would stand to gain something if he allied with me. The moment the circumstances necessitated it, I wouldn’t hesitate to betray him to save myself. By the same token, he would do the exact same. Additionally, I just used him during this fiasco. It would be perfectly normal if Achilles wanted revenge for what I did this time. Hence, I didn’t dare to trust an anthropoid. Pity can win sympathy, but sympathy is never a reason to make a choice.
“Achilles and I can’t be classified as friends. Papa will betray Achilles, and Achilles will do the same. Leah, don’t worry. He has Achilles’ letter of introduction, so businessmen will accept him out of respect for Achilles no matter where he goes. Plus, he’s not going to be able to learn anything from Papa.”
“Mm… All right, then.”
Leah had yet to get over it. Perhaps she was still worried about the anthropoid. I didn’t know why she was so invested in him. Maybe she sympathised with him as he was in the same predicament that she was in back then. I could understand her sentiment.
We returned to the table. Veirya asked, “Who. Was it?”
“An anthropoid, who was looking to be my pupil, Achilles sent to me. I don’t know how he came to be.”
Leah had her fill and, therefore, went over to the Elven Queen to talk about something.
“You. Didn’t accept?” queried Veirya.
“A pupil, huh? That’s not a bad idea,” remarked Angelina. Nostalgically, she proposed, “Back then, we also wanted to send Veirya off to study somewhere, but we realised that she preferred swords. Being a pupil is preparation for becoming an accomplished individual. After all, people only come to learn from you if you’ve got what it takes. You didn’t take him under your wing? You can delegate lots of work in the future if you have a pupil.”
“If it wasn’t Achilles who sent him, I might have considered it.”
Pupils… that’s a nice way of putting it. Putting it bluntly, they were just slaves. They have to put their nose to the grindstone and suffer, performing menial tasks every day, and yet there was no guarantee that they’d learn anything from their teacher. It was a dirty business. Honestly, I did want a pupil. My work was piling up more and more. Anna and I alone weren’t enough to handle everything. Anna already had too much on her plate. Veirya was just an eater. She said she wanted to learn to cook, but she threw that out the window.
“There’s something shifty about the kid?”
“Yes. Achilles sent him. Previously, erm, I still have ten thousand gold coins that I loaned from the merchants on me. I’m worried that he’s here to steal.”
Obviously, even if they did steal it, they’d only be able to get six thousand at best as the other four was on Veirya’s finger. I doubt Veirya would return it even if they wanted her finger.
“You walked off with ten thousand gold coins?!”
Veirya didn’t have a concept of money, but Angelina did. Thence, she queried, “Ten-thousand gold coins… That’s enough to buy the entire North. Aren’t you worried that someone will come after you for it?!”
“Of course I’m not afraid. I have you and Veirya with me. Plus, I have the sky-blue cape. Who in the entire empire would dare to harm me? Ten thousand gold coins is a paltry sum. I could take twenty thousand.”
Angelina questioned my methods. Veirya, on the other hand, trusted me and, therefore, didn’t comment.
After we had breakfast, a succubus came up and respectfully reported, “Sir, your horse carriage has been prepared. You can set out now.”
I nodded. Leah cheerfully ran up to me. She turned around to bid the succubi goodbye. Sophia conveyed, “There is no need to big me goodbye. Will you be back again? You might become our frequent customer.”
“No! I assure you I won’t!”
Of course I wouldn’t be their frequent customer. I didn’t want to die yet…
We left as a group. Our horse carriage was ready in the rear courtyard. Leah sniffed the air. Then, she scanned the horse carriage with a tinge of surprise but quickly returned to normal. I didn’t notice Leah’s reaction.
“Let’s head back now. Leah, it’s time to go home!”
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