「Aiz~, Grab that large book over there―」
「Okay, got it」
Several tens of minutes before Merea, who had slipped past Marisa’s surveillance network, returned to the star tree castle. In one of the rooms on the second floor of the star tree castle, a cool breezy voice could be heard echoing through the room.
The voice that answered as well, sounded as clear as a drop of water falling into a clear lake.
If the former was considered to be the sound of a flute rising up into the sky then the latter would be the sound of a harp in a peaceful forest.
The owners of those voices were, once more, reading books in a room that was several rooms away from Merea’s office.
Around those girls, the books they had already read had been piled up next to them and looked like a tower and the sheer number of books piled up in their surroundings looked almost like ramparts around a castle.
「Lilium, This one?」
While skillfully navigating around the rampart like stacks of books, a delicate beauty with silver eyes ―― Aiz, ran up to one of the long tables and looked back at the one who had asked her and in turn, asked back.
Aiz picked up the large book lying on the desk with both hands and while holding it to her chest, she turned her body around to let her friend see it clearly.
Seeing that, the other girl,
「Yeah! That’s the one!」
She propped one thumb up and happily spoke to Aiz.
「Well, even though I say stuff like, 『that』 or 『there』 very vaguely, Aiz gets my thoughts perfectly so it’s a huge help for me!」
「Fufu, the only large book around here is this one. If I look from above then it’s easy to understand」
Aiz laughed sweetly and walked back towards her friend ―― Lilium.
She carefully approached Lilium making sure not to topple any of the stacks of books in the way and having finally reached Lilium, she placed the book next to her.
Every single one of her actions showed that she was trying to take care of Lilium in every way possible.
「Ahh, I want one Aiz in every family. ...No, we’re all like one big family anyway so I want one AIz in every room」
Noticing Aiz’s thoughtfulness, Lilium suddenly put the book in her hand down and, as if to take her by surprise, she hugged Aiz’s delicate body.
Though she was fairly surprised by Lilium who started rubbing their cheeks together, Aiz didn’t try to drive her away. In reality, Aiz quite enjoyed the soft, smooth feeling of Lilium’s skin on her cheek.
Also, the warmth she felt from Lilium’s body as she was hugged, made Aiz feel a strange sense of happiness.
「Ahh―..., I want you as a hug pillow. Actually, it’s quite cold here. Salman will get really angry if I use the living flames to warm us up though」
「There are, too many things that will burn, after all」
Lilium looked up at the ceiling of the library and heaved a sigh.
「Haa… Even so, if he were to stand around quietly then with his face and hair he’d look like a young noble but he always ends up thinking about other demon lords and keeps lecturing everyone so he ends up looking like a mother. ――Even though he’s a man」
「Lina and Mina are, always stuck to him as well」
「Those twins huh. There are still times I don’t know which one is which actually」
「Saru-kun, seems to know」
「What’s with that? Sounds dangerous…, quite the display of motherly instinct」
「Fufu, if you say that to the person himself, he’d get angry though」
While talking, Lilium continued to hug Aiz as she turned her sight towards her surroundings.
Though the library was a part of the star tree castle, if it were to be contested then, rather than a person’s room, it looked more like a large hall instead. The inside of the room was build like half an atrium with three levels to it, with a spiral staircase that stretched around the outer edge. Of course, as the ceiling was made in such a structure, all the levels were well connected.
Looking at the first floor all the way till the third floor of the room was enough to know that every single part of every floor was full of books and even the spiral staircase had books piled up on it to make it evident that the sheer number of books in that room was enormous.
Like the long table that Aiz had picked the book up from earlier, there were several similar long tables placed on the first floor with several chairs that would allow many people to sit around the tables.
Although it gave the impression of being rather desolate when there were only the two of them hunting down and reading the books there but when the other members of the〈Demon Lord’s Knowledge (Meanne Lazlas)〉who were out collecting information came back, it would become quite crowded.
「We have quite a few candlesticks placed around so isn’t it fine even if I use the living flames?」
「The flames on a normal candlestick, wouldn’t walk around, on its own after all」
There were several fancy ornaments with candlesticks placed in them all along the spiral staircase as well as in key locations on every floor.
The long tables as well had several branched candelabras and were even now providing ample light.
Among all that, the one that caught the eye the most was,
「That one is the most obvious right?」
The place that Lilium had looked up towards. There was a large crystal chandelier on the ceiling, way above the third floor which loomed over the entire hall and was something that not many people would have expected to find in such a place.
「At first, that money-grubber tried to sell that chandelier and it became a huge problem right?」
「Shaw-kun, has a weakness for, expensive looking things after all」
「Even though it’s fine even if you don’t attach a 『-kun』 to his name」
「Yup, but even like that, Shaw-kun is quite young――Also, at times, just like Merea-kun, he acts just like a child?」
Although Aiz was tilting her own head in confusion as she continued to speak but those words weren’t meant as flattery.
Just like how Merea has his eyes sparkling when he sees something new, Shaw also had a similar reaction whenever he saw expensive items.
――W, won’t it be better not to lump them together…?
In any case, at some point, her form of address had naturally changed from 『-san』 to 『-kun』.
It might have been that, their various experiences together had helped reduce the distance between them.
In addition, Shaw as well, though he normally seems gentlemanly and like an adult but in reality, his age wasn’t that far apart from their own.
Although they had never asked him directly but he would at most be 3 to 4 years older than Merea.
However, his stern negotiating abilities as a merchant shown on several occasions was enough to make his age seems considerably higher than it actually was.
At the same time, it felt like you could feel the depth of his own work every time he did something even though he stayed in contact with a the harsh world of merchants for long periods of time.
Not one of the demon lords would hold any doubts in that regard. Both of them were extremely confident in that respect.
「Hmmm. ...Definitely, when it comes to expensive things, he definitely goes out of control doesn’t he? Even when he was looking at that chandelier he was practically drooling after all. ...No, I suppose that was slightly different wasn’t it? Or more like, aren’t there too many crazy people in our group?」
While speaking, Lilium finally separated from Aiz with a, 「Thank you, it was warm」 while laughing mischievously like a little girl.
At the sight of Lilium, who turned back to the book in her hand and continued to read at a speed that she could never copy, she couldn’t help but think, 「Amazing」.
Aiz didn’t doubt that Lilium was, in her own way, exceedingly amazing in her own field.
As Aiz tried to get back to her own duty, suddenly, a creaking sound could be heard from the door at the entrance to the library.
Though the walls of the star tree castle were made with white stone, the door was matched to the great star tree and made with wood.
Probably, the age had caused the joints to rust a little which in turn caused that noise when someone pushed on the door.
「Fuu…, I feel like I’ve become much better at infiltrating, if I say so myself. ...Hm? Is this some sort of new training? Am I dancing in the palm of Marisa’s hand once more…?」
A familiar voice reached Aiz’s ears. It was a man’s voice that made her feel a strange sense of comfort.
Lilium, who seemed to have heard the voice as well, breathed a sigh and closed the book in her hand.
『A troublesome one arrived』 is what her gesture seemed to convey but to Aiz, Lilium’s face had a clear expression of enjoyment in it.
「It seems like he’s come, the curious beast」
「Today will also be, a storm of questions right, Lilium?」
「Seriously, that’s why country bumpkins are troublesome」
Lilium gave a happy laugh as she tucked her crimson long hair behind her ear and looked towards the entrance of the library.
「Oh, hey hey, are you working well, ladies and gentlemen of〈Knowledge (Lazlas)〉?」
「If you’re not used to acting like that then stop. It reeks of a third-rate play, you know?」
「You fool, are there any people who are perfect from the very beginning? I can even brag about the badness of my acting so, that level of sarcasm isn’t enough to hurt me!」
「You are quite sharp aren’t you? If you say that you’re bad at acting then all the lecturers at the〈Blue Rose Academy〉would raise a riot」
「『Correct the injustice!』――『Preferably without having to study!』」
「That has too many of your personal preferences」
At the sight of Merea who came towards them with an exaggerated greeting as well as Lilium’s sarcastic replies to him, Aiz couldn’t help but laugh.