The carriage enters the mansion and stops.
The first one down was Keios, my uncle.
I got out of the carriage and looked toward the mansion.
It is a three-story building. It's bigger than my mansion in Grigit.
The garden was large and was attended to by a gardener walking around with a pair of shears.
I did not know that the Eiban family were nobles.
I think it would be more accurate to say that I had forgotten about it.
I must have heard about it when I was little.
But I had forgotten all about it over time.
Keios led the way to the mansion.
In the entrance hung a portrait of a middle-aged woman with red hair wearing a beautiful dress.
A woman in the back gives him a slight bow and addresses us.
"Who are these people?
"He's my nephew, Toru. You've already met him."
"Oh yes... The boy."
"Can you give us a minute, please?"
She must be my uncle's wife, because she gave me a stern look before disappearing into the back of the room with a quick step.
I was taken to a room that looked like a studio and sat on a couch.
For some reason, Keios sat on the side of the desk.
I thought I was going to be sitting across from you.
"Welcome, Toru. You look so much like my brother when he was younger that I mistook you for him."
"Really? I don't think there's much resemblance. So, why did you bring me here?"
"You're being very distant. This is a reunion between an uncle and his nephew."
"Do you know that Dad is dead?"
Keios' eyes widen like saucers.
The shock was evident on his face.
"When did that..."
"When I was fifteen years old."
He closed his eyes and exhaled deeply.
"What about your mother?"
"Also dead, both of them."
He then became depressed and silent for a while.
I think it really came as a shock to him.
'Then why didn't you come to see me?'
I bet that's what you must be thinking.
"If you have any problems, please tell me anything. I will help you as much as I can, anything for my sweet nephew."
"No, thank you."
"Don't say that. We're family."
Are we family?
What are you saying all of a sudden, old man?
We are only blood relatives, but we are strangers who know nothing about each other.
It doesn't seem right to use the word family all of a sudden.
"That doesn't matter to me, but there is something I want to know. Tell me about the Eiban house. I want to know all about my mother and father."
"Well, I'll tell you everything I know. But I don't have time today, I'm busy and I have to go to the palace to meet the king."
"Then I will come tomorrow."
"Hmm, you can stay in the house. This place is already like your home, you can spend some time with the slaves there."
Someone knocks on the door.
"Father, we need to talk to you about something? Who are these people?"
"Let me introduce you. This is my son, Bill."
"I am Toru, Toru Eiban, nice to meet you, Bill."
"Eiban? Is he the son of your disowned brother?"
Bill was a young man with short red hair.
He stared at me when he heard my name.
"Father, are you still bent on a woman who is no longer with us, when you have your wife here?"
"Relax, Bill. I have no other intentions in bringing him here, simply because he has Eiban blood in him, he's your cousin."
"I don't care if we share the same blood, he's still a commoner, nothing to do with us nobles, let alone that he's the son of that woman."
Bill exits, closing the door vigorously.
Keios poses with a dry laugh and says "sorry".
He seems to have problems with his son.
However, I was envious of Bill.
I wish I could have had a discussion like that with my father.
"That boy is crazy."
As soon as we entered the room we were given, Frau complained.
I don't know if it's because they share the same opinion, but Panda reacted as well.
For now, I'm going to lie face down on the bed and let Kaede give me a massage.
"When he referred to 'that woman', was he talking about your mother, Master?"
"Maybe, I don't know that information."
"Did your parents ever talk to you?"
"I asked them, but they never answered my question. I never knew why my father and uncle didn't get along. I don't know anything about this family."
Kaede pulls up my clothes and presses her hands directly on my waist.
Thin, soft hands relax my muscles and slowly make me feel better.
I will also massage Kaede's body later.
For some reason, Panda and Frau are spinning in the air.
Is it a new game?
It seems to be a new game after all, as they started to turn and move.
...It looks fun. I want to try it too.
Frau walked over to the window and stopped moving.
"Isn't that Bill over there. Oh, everything's spinning..."
Frau and Panda fell unsteadily to the ground, as if their eyes were spinning.
What are you doing?
I got up and looked out the window, and sure enough, there was Bill.
And he's talking to a woman who looks like his mother, the same one I met at the entrance.
"Is this a private conversation?"
"Hmm, that's suspicious."
The mother smiles at Bill's words.
He nodded and left.
I don't like this.
I have to watch my back while I'm in this mansion.
I will quickly leave this place once I've heard Keios' story.
"Come now, Master, I'm not done with you yet."
Kaede jumps on the bed, wags her tail and looks at me happily.
However, Frau also fell on top of me.
"No, Frau will give you a massage, my Lord."
"No, Frau-San, I am the one who should massage the Master."
"Kuu~, Frau can't touch the master?"
"No, that's not it-- Huigh!?"
Frau rubbed Kaede's waist area intensely.
Now that I remember, Frau is very rough when she massages.
Fair enough for me, but Kaede might not be able to take it.
"Hi, I'm coming in."
Bill entered the room without knocking.
In addition, the tone of voice and attitude are different from the last time.
"Hey, Toru, there's something I want you to do."
"What do I get in return?"
"There's no such thing as a reward. Let's face it, you're no better than me. If you want a seat at the head of the Eiban family, you'll do as I say."
Huh? What are you talking about, little man?
A seat in the Eiban family?
I was about to explode with anger, but I managed to restrain myself.
"I'll tell you three things; First, I'm not interested in being part of this family, second, I don't plan to do anything unless I get paid, and third, I'll leave this house as soon as your father has told me what I want."
"You are a very good liar. All right, I'll pay you whatever you want. In return, you will do what I order you to do."
He's looking down on me.
I'm angry, but I think I'll play along.
I hate nobles who have grown up without personality and being pampered.
Unlike all the nobles I have met, Bill is by far the worst.
"I'll be waiting outside, be ready soon."
He quickly left the room.
Nor did he deign to say what he wants me to do.
Is he supposed to be my cousin...? I hate him.
"You're late! How long are you going to make me wait!"
Bill yells as soon as we're out the door.
I think it's only been about five minutes.
There is no need to rush.
In front of the entrance a single carriage was drawn up, and it was easy to predict that it would go outside the mansion.
''Currently, our country has its hands full with organized bandits. The other day, the army finally discovered the enemy's stronghold. We will participate in this campaign to defeat them.''
Organized bandits, eh?
I had run into one of them before coming here, but it was a small group.
"What's the reward?"
"Okay, I'm in."
I could have refused this offer, but there was something that bothered me.
What had his mother told Bill about me? Why did he turn to me for this assignment?
It doesn't take a genius to figure out that Bill holds nothing but contempt for me.
This must be some sort of trap.
The quickest way to find out what is going on is to go to the problem at hand.
"But, there is one condition. In this petition, the reward will be determined by who defeats the most enemies. If you want the money, you'll have to beat me. Well, I guess that's useless."
"Dead or alive?"
"It doesn't matter. As long as they are defeated."
I don't like to gamble with my job, but in this case, I guess I have no choice.
Now that we are facing bandits, to what extent should we be benevolent towards them?
I am a bit torn.