Chapter 25. What Happened in the Capital? (2)

Hestia was helping pack Leisha's luggage. The latter was planning on leaving the village to catch Denburg.

"You don't have to pack it like that. You can put some of the stuff in a pocket space."

Even as Leisha complained, Hestia continued to pack the bag without wasting any space.

"You can't use your pocket space when you're in the forest. This is bug repellent, this is animal repellent, this is the food you can pack later."

"I didn’t need these things when I was pursuing Denburg. I don’t need things like animal repellent."

"You were traveling with hundreds of other people when you were chasing after him. This time, it’s only the three of you. You need to prepare for any danger that you might encounter."

“Still, Brother Vice General is one of the strongest people in the village. Would I actually be in any danger?"

Hestia shook her head and stuffed more items into the bag. "You're a magician. You’re only a tiny bit stronger than a ten-year-old in the forest."

"Hmph. I’m still stronger than you though."

Hestia slapped Leisha’s hand when she tried to take some items out of her bag. "Stop. Listen to your sister. You can put it in the pocket space again when you leave the forest. It’s not like it’s that heavy."

Leisha lifted the 50kg bag with one hand. "It’s light, but the bag is too big. This bag is almost triple my size.”

"I can't help it. Your clothes take up a lot of volume. There's a raincoat and towels inside. It’s not like you're not going to change for ten days."

"That's true. But can't Brother Vice General or the person from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs carry the firestick or the rope?"

"If you expect someone else to bring the items for you, you could end up in a situation where nobody brings it."

Leisha pouted at Hestia’s continuous nagging. "We could just open everyone’s bag before we leave?"

"Are you going to unpack your bag in front of everyone when you have underwear inside? Also, why did you not put this book in your pocket space? Let's see. A man and a man....”

Leisha quickly took the book back when Hestia tried to read it and decided to surrender.

"Ahhh? Stop? Okay? Stop, I’ll just take the items with me."

The book had been left in the bag for Leisha to read when she was resting at a campsite as she couldn't open her pocket space in the forest. It was a novel she had obtained by secretly asking a diplomat from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

"Phew, I'm worried about sending you off."

When Hestia sighed, Leisha puffed out her cheeks.

"You’re the one who made the decision."

"I know. I should be the one going."

"Haha, stop it. I don't know about Denburg, but if you left and went missing, Father will definitely go out to find you."

Hestia sighed. There was no need to worry about Denburg getting bullied somewhere, but she was the weakest person in the village. Moreover, since most of the village's operations were managed by her, she could not leave the village unless she had taken care of most of the operations she was managing.

"You should go now if you're done packing. Vice General will be waiting.”

"Yes, I should. Don’t worry too much, Sister. I may be powerless in the forest, but I might be stronger than the brothers when I go out."

"Yes, yes."

Leisha’s words simply passed through Hestia's ears.

"I’m being serious."

Leisha stuck out her lips and pretended to be sulky.

In fact, her words were not wrong. Magic power was stable enough outside Olympus Forest to make a drastic difference compared to the magic power inside the village. If she was outside the forest, she could perform magic that was strong enough to hold back the warriors of the Crow Tribe who had learned martial arts, a skill that had been developed to utilize magic power safely inside the forest.

Hestia was unaware of this since she had only learned magic used for everyday life and had never stepped outside of the village, let alone the forest.

As Leisha carried her bag and headed towards the entrance of the village, Mac, who had been waiting for Leisha, said, "Lady Leisha, let’s head out now."

"Oppa, can you stop talking to me in that tone and also stop calling me Lady?" Leisha lashed out.

Mac shrugged and said, "This tone is a trademark that goes along with my beard. And what else am I supposed to call you other than Lady? Isn’t that right? Commander?"

When Mac sought Hestia’s agreement, the latter smiled and said, "Just shave your beard."

“I thought Commander would at least understand. This is too much for me to bear.”

"Ahaha, let’s get going now. Bye, Sister, I'm leaving."

Hestia gave her little sister a big parting hug.

"Don't be upset that not everyone could come to say goodbye. Father had an urgent matter to attend at Mount Olympus, and Gawain and Gallahad went with him."

Even Hestia did not know what exactly had happened. She just remembered her father saying that something did not feel quite right lately. She could only wonder if the reason he had chosen his successor already was also due to this uneasiness.

"I know. Do you think I’m a kid? I'm an adult, too." Leisha grumbled.

Hestia spoke in a tone that was used to reprimand a child. "Oh, are you now?"

"Of course!"

Hestia laughed as she watched her sister speak proudly while puffing out her chest.

"Hoho, okay. Vice General, I’ll leave Leisha in your care."

Mac nodded in response.

The people who were leaving to bring Denburg back to the village left in such a manner.

-o-

I examined the map I bought from the intelligence agency and headed to some kind of real estate agency.

"Let’s see."

With the copy of a section of the map I had bought as a guide, I went around looking for the real estate agency. It was hard to read it because it was a rough sketch. Still, I had no choice since I couldn’t just carry around the original map. I had memorized a route while I had been copying the map, so I thought I could find my way as I did when I visited the bank.

I was concentrating on the map when I heard the sound of wheels rolling from behind. Just as I was about to raise my head for a moment to look at the source of the sound, a carriage passed by quickly and sprayed muddy water all over me. Without any time to dodge, the water in the puddle from the rain last night drenched me completely.

The horseman of the carriage also realized that he had sprayed me with mud, so he stopped the carriage that had been going in a hurry and looked back at me.

An angry voice sounded from the carriage, "What are you doing? Go faster!"

The horseman spoke with an awkward expression, "Lord Marquis, a passerby got splashed with muddy water due to the carriage."

"What does that have to do with me?"

"Perhaps we should reimburse his clothes....”

"What does that have to do with stopping the carriage? Do you want to get fired?"

"No, no. I apologize."

The horseman sent me an apologetic look and drove away.

I swept away the mud on my clothes with my hand and took a look at the large emblem etched on the carriage — a silver wolf and a laurel leaf.

I would remember them. This brother was serious. I couldn’t express the deep annoyance I felt. I decided to look through the information about the nobles I had bought from the intelligence agency.

I headed to a deserted alley to take care of the drenched clothes and my discomfort. I sprayed myself with water made from magic to rinse the muddy water, but I still felt uncomfortable in my clothes.

"Hmph!"

I clicked my tongue and reminded myself once again of the emblem with a silver wolf and a laurel leaf and then proceeded to head to the real estate agency which was my original destination.

"Excuse me."

I opened the door to the real estate agency and saw a map of a section of the capital hanging on the wall as well as a table and a sofa placed at the center of the room.

"Welcome. Have you come to look for a house?"

"Yes."

A woman who gave me a good impression greeted me. I wasn’t sure whether she was the owner or a host.

When I sat on the sofa as per her instructions, the woman spread a map similar to the one on the wall on the table and sat on the opposite end of the sofa.

"Are you leaving your family, or are you just trying to move to a new house? Are you from another territory? Do you live alone, or do you have a family? If you have a family, how big is it?"

When I became embarrassed by the quick succession of questions hurled at me and hesitated, the middle-aged woman smiled and poured some tea for me.

"Oh, I’m sorry. Am I asking too many questions at once? Well, you can drink some tea and answer them slowly."

I took a sip of tea and answered, "First of all, I came to the capital from another territory, and I'm alone."

"Oh, if you came here alone, did you come to get a job? Have you found one yet?"

"No, I'm planning on taking the civil service examination."

"The civil service examination...Then you'll be staying here for at least a month. If you pass, you’ll be staying here for an additional six months for school."

"What?"

Seeing my surprise, the middle-aged woman suddenly began to explain.

"Oh my, you didn't know. I’ve noticed that people who come from outside the capital aren’t usually aware of this. You know that the civil service examination is in January and July, right?

"Yes."

"If you pass the test, you will be trained for about half a year by a school or a training center. Based on the grades you receive during your training, you will be assigned to internal positions at the imperial palace, external positions at the capital, or local positions that are situated at provincial areas. Actually, my son passed the civil service examination during winter and is currently attending school. Phew, the school is managed alongside the knight and magic school, so most of the students there are actually from noble families. I hope my son is doing okay. But after working hard for half a year, you can get a decent job. Oh sorry, I started talking about myself."

The middle-aged woman spoke rapidly and then apologized.

"It's okay. This will also be my future if I pass the examination."

"That’s right. It will be helpful for you to hear about these. This is what I heard from my son, but—”

The middle-aged woman kept talking. To summarize her words, if I passed the examination, I would have to attend the school and live in a dormitory for half a year.

People who took the examination were mostly the third and fourth sons of noble families with the rank of viscount or lower. However, commoners were also able to take the examination. Commoners were treated on par during the entirety of the process because the examination was managed by the Department of Treasury which was led by one of the only two dukes in the empire.

The Department of Treasury was one of the strongest organizations in the empire. Rumors had it that in order to bribe an official from this department, you had to give enough money to bankrupt a small territory. In other words, the examination guaranteed fairness because nobles with the rank of a viscount or lower had no money to provide help for their third and fourth sons to pass the exam.

I reckoned I wouldn’t have needed to forge my identification card with ogre-bones if I had known this.

Also, the civil service exam was very competitive because if you were to successfully pass the exam and complete the training for half a year, you were guaranteed to be granted the rank of knight. Although the title was restricted to only their own generation, all the smart commoners challenged the exam for the chance to become a noble.

Still, the fact that the Department of Treasury was in charge of the civil service examination was really good news.

Now, I only had to sneak into the Department of Treasury and take a peek at the exam questions, and then I would be able to quickly become a civil servant no matter how cut-throat the competition.

The reason I was planning on entering the Department of Treasury and looking at the exam questions wasn’t that I lacked the confidence to pass the exam without cheating. Rather, I was full of confidence that I could pass.

The real reason was that I was afraid of passing the exam with excellent grades and ending up working for the imperial palace that my uncle frequented. If I were to work for the capital, I would be hiding underneath the lamp, but if I were to work as a civil servant in the imperial palace, I was basically above the lamp.

"Has this much time passed already? I ended up chatting away with a busy man."

Indeed, the middle-aged woman had kept on talking for an hour without a break. If I had not obtained snippets of important information while she had been talking, I would have just run away from her. However, she had occasionally thrown some important information at me.

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