Atelier Tanaka Volume 4 Chapter 2 part1
Territory Pioneering 2
[Sophia-chan’s point of view]
I’m currently in one of the parlours of the academy.
The others here are Fahren-sama, the Elf-san, Lydia Nannuzzi-sama, and the Dragon-san. Fahren-sama suggested having a chat with the Elf-san yesterday and everyone seems to be here for that purpose.
I was sitting on a sofa with the Dragon-san and the Elf-san. Lydia Nannuzzi-sama and Fahren-sama were sitting on a sofa opposite us.
There was a table between our two sofas with tea and sweets set out on it that a maid had brought in earlier.
The sweets were mainly to keep the Dragon-san in a good mood. There was a platter of sweets exclusively for the Dragon-san with sweets piled as tall as me when seated…how enviable. I’m salivating just looking at it.
“Fahren-sama, w-who are these people…?”
“Right. This woman here is an excellent alchemist who was actually conducting her own research in a similar field as you.”
Fahren-sama motioned towards the Elf-san.
As soon as she heard this Nannuzzi-sama’s shoulders trembled. This maid didn’t miss her eyebrows raising either. It’s true. That voice from that room in the academy belonged to her.
Nobody else seemed to pay much attention to her reaction. I’m the only one that knows.
“Umm…y-your presentation yesterday was wonderful.”
The Elf-san spoke after Fahren-sama gave her introduction.
It was like she was reciting a speech she had prepared earlier.
She’s honestly terrible at socializing.
“Thank you for the invitation and introduction Fahren-sama, and thank you as well for your compliment.”
Nannuzzi-sama replied after regaining her composure.
“Actually, I’ve previously done research on the efficacy of pessari grass….”
I noticed this when she first arrived, but the Elf-san came here with a rather large shoulder bag. She was only now taking it off of her shoulder and searching through it for something. The design was based more around function rather than fashion, but there were small leather decorations in the shape of flowers on the shoulder strap.
She gave off the image of a young girl headed out to buy groceries from a shop. Very cute. For some reason, I want to hug her from the back even though she’s much older than me. The Elf tribes really are cheating.
“I know it’s somewhere in here…. Ah, here it is.”
The Elf–san found what she was looking for in her bag and smiled.
She pulled out a large book.
It was about three centimetres thick and the cover looked quite old.
“D-D-D-Don’t read the title!”
The Elf-san’s face turned bright red after Nannuzzi-sama pointed out the title of her book.
It must be based off her own life in poverty.
“It’s on the page marked with the red tab.”
Nannuzzi-sama opened the book to the red tab as instructed.
As her eyes scanned the page her face froze.
“W-What do you think?”
“…yes, your r-research certainly has similarities to my own.”
“Right!? It’s like our research was the same but you just took it a step further than me! Converting the liquid into a powder, then increasing its permeability by pressurizing and rehydrating it. I can’t believe I never attempted that. You truly are an excellent alchemist!”
Just like Fahren-sama and his magic, the Elf-san is obsessed with alchemy. She still sounded a little awkward, but she was clearly passionate about her work. She must be excited to have found someone interested in the same research as her. Her eyes are sparkling.
If it were, say a cooking recipe, I feel like even I could’ve spoken with the Elf-san. It must be nice finding someone with the same interest.
“There is one thing I’d like to correct in your method that I believe will help you in the future.”
“…what is that?”
“You said you use a fireball on the distilled pessari grass, correct?”
“Y-Yes, that’s right.”
“Why exactly do you do that?”
“That’s um, well….”
Nannuzzi-sama fumbled over her words.
She hesitated for a moment before continuing.
“The heat from the fireball produces the desired effect in the pessari grass.”
“Ah, regarding that point, you are incorrect.”
Nannuzzi-sama’s face went rigid when she heard this.
“The colour change that occurred in the pessari grass was not due to the heat emitted by the fireball but the light. I discovered this when experimenting with the grass in a darkroom. I’d like you to read the page marked with the blue tab to learn more about this.”
“…o-okay, I understand.”
Nannuzzi-sama’s face was gradually turning blue.
Oh, it’s the same colour as the tab.
But the Elf-san’s enthusiasm is so cute.
What is it about her cuteness that annoys me as a fellow woman?
“These results certainly suggest….”
“If you don’t mind receiving outside help, I’d like you to use my book for your future research. Oh, I’ve already promised that book to someone else, so you can’t take it, but feel free to spend as much time reading it as long as it remains here.”
Nannuzzi-sama’s hands were shaking as she held the book.
This is just my own guess but I bet she doesn’t know why Fahren-sama called her here and she’s starting to get scared that they’re suspicious. If I were in her position I’d be crying right now.
I don’t really understand what the Elf-san’s research is about, but if everything in her book is similar to Nannuzzi-sama’s research there’s no doubt that she’ll start to suspect every mention of the research is an accusation of her theft.
I kind of enjoy knowing her secret. In the first place, a maid is a weak and pitiful creature. She must use every opportunity presented to her in order to succeed in life. This is all the more true when her opponent is a member of the nobility. She must be ready to deal a single fatal blow at any instant so there can be no counter.
“…what’s wrong? You look pale.”
Fahren-sama was worrying over Nannuzzi-sama.
“N-No, I’m fine….’
“Really? If you say so.”
She’s getting more anxious. As the representative of commoners, how should I ruin this woman? Directly confront Nannuzzi-sama? Or would Fahren-sama be the better option?
Now that I think about it, I’m not in that good of a position. I have no evidence. Is my status as a maid going to ruin this opportunity? I forgot myself. What would Tanaka-san do if he were in my place?
His face appeared in my mind with that useless smile of his.
Sophia-san, I’d like another cup of tea. Those dark eyes.
That was the one thing I liked about him. His dark eyes that always seemed to have a solution to whatever problem he faced.
No matter where I am, I’m still just a simple maid who’s the daughter of a restaurant owner. If I were to say anything I’d just be ruining my own life. If I were to accuse her without any evidence it would just lead to me being executed.
Not to mention, before I’m even executed, I’d be forced to live through days or even weeks of humiliation and other punishments that I can’t even describe with words. When I was younger, there was an older man in the neighbourhood that drunkenly picked a fight with a nobleman. His skin was peeled from his body while he was still alive and a hot spike was driven into him. He was left like this in the town square to be ridiculed by passersby.
This man lived like this for half a day. His moaning and words begging for death are still seared into my mind.
I have to take it to my grave. It doesn’t matter how much Nannuzzi-sama stands to profit from this, it doesn’t concern me. That’s right.
This is the correct decision. Even if I were to do everything I can to convince those here that I’m telling the truth, I wouldn’t gain anything. Even if they were to believe me, nobody would bother protecting a simple maid. The one person that might save me isn’t even here.
“If you disagree with any of my research, I’d be more than happy to allow you into my laboratory. I believe that if you were to actually experience it with your own hands you’d be able to understand better. I’d also like to witness your abilities with my own eyes.”
“No, i-it’s not like I disagree with any of your research….”
No, no, no I can feel it coming!
I can’t keep my stupid mouth closed!
“What is it?”
Everyone is suddenly glaring at me. It’s like I’m being scolded for interrupting their magic talks. Or maybe they are genuinely annoyed that I interrupted. I was putting on a bright smile, but their irritated stares scared that smile right off my face.
Even without him being here I can still feel Tanaka-san’s influence on me.
I’ve seen so much of his freewheeling spirit up close that I can’t help if it’s starting to influence my own actions.
“N-Nannuzzi-sama’s announcement yesterday…do you really believe she used her own research? I just think she should be able to prove that it’s hers….”
They’re staring. Their stares hurt so much.
I’m so scared. I think it’s going to leak out.
I can feel my legs trembling more than usual.
“E-E-Everyone knows that pessari grass is familiar to a commoner like me, but no aristocrat would ever choose to be associated with such a plant.”
“What are you trying to say?”
“It’s just like the title of the E-Elf’s book. Pessari grass is used by the poorest of the poor. I couldn’t imagine a member of the nobility ever voluntarily working with it….”
“Those who lack even a basic education should remain silent. Pessari grass is used as a common reagent in our school. Those at the school view the grass as a research tool just like any other ingredient. If you consider yourself a true mage, even if you are a nobleman, you would have no resistance to using any and all tools available to you.”
I didn’t know that. My parents also grow it in the back corner of their garden. The first thing my father always does in the morning is to go out and grab a few blades of the grass. He says they revitalize him and I’ve even noticed life return to his dark eyes when he eats the grass.
There they are again. Those dark eyes.
What am I thinking about? I’m just confused by the fear.
“Eh, umm, t-that’s….”
All I’m managing to do is make Nannuzzi-sama’s research look legitimate.
Ah, why am I so foolish?
Tanaka-san would’ve been able to do something.
There’s no doubt about that.
“Are you trying to say she’s stolen her work?”
“Fahren-sama, who exactly is this maid?”
Nannuzzi-sama seemed to regain some of her confidence now that she was dealing with a commoner.
A bitter smile floated across her face.
“She’s — how can I describe her — the maid of one of my acquaintance’s.”
“So that means she’s as much of a commoner as she looks.”
“I never dreamt a day would come when a simple commoner would call my research into question. Fahren-sama, as the director of this academy, I’d like to know if you will allow such humiliation to continue.”
“Yes, I can understand what you’re saying.”
“If you truly understand, Fahren-sama, you will give me this maid’s name. I can tell by her appearance that she works at the academy. As the director, I’m sure you know her name and can grant me the ability to punish her as I see fit.”
Fahren-sama was glancing back and forth between Nannuzzi-sama and me. I’d rather be racing through the air on the Dragon-san’s back right now. I can feel so much sweat covering my body from head to toe.
Goodbye to this world.
Goodbye to my life as a commoner.
“While I do understand what you’re saying, this maid is a special case. I can’t punish her without the consent of my acquaintance.”
“H-How is that possible? Fahren-sama is one of the Great Earls after all….”
“I can’t tell you all of the details, but my position as director or even as a Great Earl would matter little to that man.”
“If you say so, Fahren-sama.”
‘But any commoner that dared insult our research efforts in the past would be paraded through the streets being whipped as they went. Please, she deserves to feel the same humiliation she’s caused me.”
Would Fahren-sama actually protect me?”
His remarks earlier were about Tanaka-san.
He doesn’t care about me only what Tanaka-san thinks about him.
This is vexing.
I decided to speak up due to Tanaka-san’s influence but failed miserably. In the end, it was Tanaka-san’s influence that saved me.
Yes, it’s very annoying.
Tanaka-san is so annoying.
“O-Oi, what’s going on?”
Now that the tension in the room was growing, the Elf-san was starting to panic. She glanced over at me, but I pretended not to notice as I stared off into space.
“I don’t understand what’s happening, ahem, but I-I think I should leave for t-today….”
Why does she look so cute when she’s confused.
I can’t even stop my legs from trembling.