Atk 0 Crit All ~My attack stat is negligible, so I can't help but rely on critical hits to succeed!~
"Chef Evers has invited everyone here to a selection of cuisine that none have seen before! I have personally sampled and participated in the creation of this feast, so fear not! You have my guarantee that this event was executed with solely good intentions!"
The blue-haired girl wearing glasses proclaimed her support in front of the loud crowd of people. Though her voice had changed to that of the commanding tone of royalty, she immediately converted back to her old self right after speaking. She continued happily eating the assortment of food that had been laid out, openly showing her approval of it.
Katsys = Princess Sistina
Katalina Sistina = Kat Sys
My jaw dropped as that equation came together.. She had chosen quite the timing to reveal herself.
That was some surprise. The nerdy inventor that I had interacted with all those times, who hid herself underneath that cloak, who had a messy workshop filled with failures…was a princess?
There were too many questions as to why a princess would involve herself with such things, but I'd have to sort that out later.
As my mind was spinning, I barely noticed that the crowd had started swarming the booths to also try the food. Apparently, seeing their princess heartily consume it was enough to convince them that it was safe.
It didn't take long before the crowd of people became enamored by the enticing flavor of nutmeg. Consuming the spice also made them feel a warm glow permeate through their bodies, counteracting the cold chill of the autumn day. It was the perfect condition to ensnare the hearts of the people. Maybe this was why people went crazy about pumpkin spice in everything at the start of autumn back home.
I heard later from Roland that it had been such a hit that he was already swamped with requests. Since we had made preparations to secure supplies ahead of time, he would enjoy a virtual monopoly in the market while competitors would have to fight hard to draw customers away. I could've sworn I heard his 'Gwahaha' laugh in the crowd at some point, which he tended to do when he could smell profit on the horizon. That's good and all, but where's my cut in all of this? I hadn't forgotten about returning that sock to the face either!
After the food had been consumed and the crowd thinned out, I was once again in the director's office, accompanied by Cornelius and Stark, the latter looking frustrated at the result.
"Well, it looks like things turned out exactly as you imagined. I can see why you wanted to pursue this. Therefore, I shall deem your words as truthful." Castia laid out her verdict.
"I object! How does doing this prove that scoundrel isn't pulling anything else from behind the scenes!" Stark shouted, acting like a sore loser.
"He did exactly what he claimed that he was going to achieve. That, in itself, holds some credibility." Castia dismissed his objection.
"So, you're going to believe a commoner over one of your own knights? Over one who carries the name of nobility?"
"I believe the words of royalty over that of a Viscount's son," Castia retorted.
Stark recoiled at that point.
Cornelius took this opportunity to interject. "I did some investigation myself. It seems that once word spread about this being an alluring spice, traders who had been harboring the supplies in secret all came out of hiding. Selling the drugs to people on the streets wasn't exactly making them much profit. So when given the chance, they were all for signing a contract with the Faulkner trading company. One of the conditions was to divulge their sources and contacts, which they didn't mind revealing. Some of those statements happen to conflict with parts of your report, Knight Madiswil."
Stark started squirming as Cornelius read his findings. Sweat was beading around his temple.
"Furthermore, I have several accounts of a certain noble knight who had paid off the local officials to keep quiet about the events in Gibraltar. After talking to some of the residents affected by the Gate-, excuse me, nutmeg overdose, they claimed that Knight Faulkner and Mr. Evers were aiding them to rid the source. So why is it that you are insistent to find fault in their actions?"
Knives of suspicion figuratively stabbed into Stark's body, though it looked like he actually felt them as his body involuntarily jerked under the attack.
"That was…a misunderstanding…"
"Lastly! We have statements from your servants suggesting that not only were you involved in this case, but numerous other cases involving banditry and theft that inconvenienced the people as well as our own knights. They must not be very loyal to you, as all it took was a mere inquiry into your actions by someone of higher standing for them to loosen their lips. What do you have to say to that?"
'Cornelius found out all that in the past few days? Sasuga, Cornelius-sama. Sasuga, indeed. I don't suppose your servants are from Nazarick?' I thought as I welcomed the good fortune.
The tables had turned on Stark, as Cornelius countered his initial accusation with accusations of his own. Like a house of cards, his phony bravado had been torn down, once those involved turned on him. While I had no idea Stark had been involved in so many things, that would explain all the trouble that we faced recently.
"YOU! YOU DID THIS TO ME! YOU CONNIVING CHEAT!" Stark turned to me screaming.
Calling out a gate next to him, the figure of a wolf jumped out, apparently Stark's familiar. No longer caring about the consequences, he ordered his familiar to attack me. The wolf bared its fangs as it leapt forwards, aiming for my throat.
'Oh, a wolf' was all I thought. I had encountered plenty of them in the wild. Before either Castia or Cornelius could act, I reflexively drew my chef knife and dodged under the wolf's fangs. My knife shot up and sunk into a weak spot near its neck as it sailed above me. The blade found its mark and glided down the length of the wolf, vertically bisecting it from the neck down. Its body fell onto the floor with a sick thud, and after a few twitches, the familiar had breathed its last breath.
"W-Wha, how? Th-This can't be?" Starkenberg faltered at the sight in front of him.
A mere chef that was so under-leveled compared to his familiar had just slain it effortlessly. What kind of farce was this? Starkenberg couldn't make any sense of it anymore. All he could think of was that the man in front of him had disguised himself as a lowly servant and had played him for a fool.
How else would a mere servant gain the favor of his peers? Not only had an Earl taken his side, but also the princess as well. Starkenberg felt cheated by the outcome, as if he had been set up to fail from the very beginning.
Flames started to envelop his surroundings as he charged up his mana for his strongest attack. His sight started becoming hazy, but he could tell a figure swiftly approaching him. He would burn it all down, starting with…!
As he was about to unleash a flame that would spread outwards and engulf everything in his proximity, he felt something tap him on the neck. An intense pain surged through his body as everything below his neck started going numb. Unable to focus due to the pain, his mana dispersed, cancelling the spell.
"Yeowch. I think I scorched my hand, but looks like that stopped you." The visage of the chef suddenly looked large and imposing in his eyes.
"What…What did…you…do… to me?" Starkenberg grimaced as he struggled to hold himself upright.
"Nothing that I would care to let you know." The chef brought his knife up to Starkenberg's neck. The tip of the knife lightly penetrated the skin on his neck, drawing a small trail of blood that trickled down.
"That was a pretty dangerous spell there. I'm sure that if I hadn't stopped you, the other two would have taken drastic measures. Seeing that you're out for my blood, what do you think? Should I return the favor?"
As the chef threatened him with the knife to his neck, Stark tried not to move, for fear of it digging further in. In fact, even breathing seemed to be no good as he could feel the blade dig into anything that it touched with unmatched sharpness.
"Y-You can't do that to nobility! I'll have my father take care of you!"
"Oh? Is that so? I don't really know much of your so-called hierarchy here. But someone trying to frame me and Eryn, and then trying to attack me with your familiar and then magic? Yeah, I don't treat that kindly."
"Mr. Evers. I'll take it from here," Castia announced suddenly. "Knight Madis-no, Starkenberg Madiswil, in light of your crimes both now and in the past, I hereby strip you of knighthood. Furthermore, I will see to it that your status will be stripped such that you can no longer take advantage of others. Maybe you will see some sense being the very commoner that you despise."
By this time, other knights had rushed in to check on the commotion. Seeing the verdict that their director handed out, Castia motioned for them to take Starkenberg away.
Starkenberg's words became nothing more than mindless babbling at his defeat. He had lost everything, all because of that man. As he was led away by the other knights, he barely acknowledged them. The only thing left of him was a deep, burning hatred smoldering in the pit of his stomach.
Having been cleared of my accusations, I finally breathed a sigh of relief. Cornelius patted me on the back before he left.
"You should go check on your master."
Oh yeah! With all the craziness, I had totally forgotten that Eryn had been recovering from nutmeg overdose. I raced back to the Faulkner residence.
Eryn was currently recovering in bed but was at least awake. The lingering signs of cloudiness affecting her thoughts had just started to clear up. After talking to her, it was apparent that no one had notified her of the events from the past few days, as she didn't even know that we had been accused of a crime, nor the resulting exhibition of goods centered around nutmeg.
Despite Pietro knowing all about the recent events, he may have purposefully left her in the dark to give her a chance to recover. Knowing Eryn, she likely would have rushed over to help, regardless of her condition. Pietro whistled innocently in the corner of the room as he polished a vase.
"Here, Eryn. How about a treat to celebrate your recovery?" I pulled out a bag of leftover nutmeg cookies with icing.
Eryn happily accepted them, but after she took a bite, she slowly chewed in contemplation.
"This taste…I feel like I've had it before…"
"Oh, that? You're probably tasting the GateDown I used." I joked, unable to stop myself from teasing her.
The bag of cookies bounced off my forehead before landing on the ground.
"You trying to kill me?!" Eryn hissed.
Oh well, I guess some explanations were in order. I promised I'd be nice this time. At this point, nothing could stop me from smiling, seeing my master back to her normal self again.