Utterly exhausted, Mia returned to the Hart residence upon where she was greeted by Colson.
"Worry not, Milady. The other servants have agreed to help us and promised to deliver a batch of live rats to you tomorrow morning." Colson had an expectant look on his face as if he wanted to be praised for this.
"…Thank you. I'll deal with it tomorrow morning, then." Mia put off thinking too much about this, as she was too tired. She simply had some dinner and then went to her room to rest, much earlier than usual.
When she returned to her room, Whimsy jumped on her bed before she could. The green slime spread itself flatly all over her bedsheets with an expression of utter bliss.
"Haha, I suppose that you're exhausted from today as well, doing all that training with me. You really didn't have to put yourself through all that, Whimsy. …But, thank you as well for accompanying me."
This time, Mia was quite grateful for her status as a noble. While she didn't object to sleeping together with the green Wind Slime, Whimsy was definitely quite capable of making her bedsheets rather messy. One advantage of being a noble was that she had servants to wash the sheets for her!
It was actually surprisingly comfortable to wear Whimsy on her body all day long, due to the oil that Whimsy secreted. Mia couldn't help but wonder about the oil's properties as she got into bed together with Whimsy. Was it supposed to be this world's version of a skin care product? Would it be possible to collect slime oil somehow and market it? Did it actually have protective effects for her skin? Mia fell asleep while wondering such thoughts.
The next day, Mia went to go find Colson after she woke up. She was planning on using today for additional magical experimentation and research about her own powers as well as how to deal with Barnaby. For that purpose, she needed more victims… er, rats.
"Last night, you said that live rats have been arranged, right? Where are they?"
"You'll have to ask Ellie about that. She was the one who said it would be arranged for you."
Ellie? Mia raised her eyebrows at hearing this, but didn't say anything. If Colson had asked her personal maid Ellie to help him find rats for her, that meant Ellie would definitely spread even more rumors about her. Well, it didn't matter so much to Mia, as long as she got what she wanted.
There was no helping it. Mia took Colson along with her as they went to Ellie's room.
When Mia knocked on Ellie's door, she heard only the sounds of snoring inside. While Mia had woken up quite early due to sleeping earlier than usual, and Colson was an early riser to begin with, it seemed that Ellie was still sleeping in at this hour of the day.
A frown started growing on Mia's face. What was with the servant sleeping in so much later than the master she was supposed to serve? Although it couldn't be said that Mia had strong feelings for the master-servant system in this world, she still felt that Ellie's behavior was improper.
Rather than calling it a master-servant relationship, Mia felt that it was more along the lines of an employer-employee relationship. She'd already learned before in her studies that slavery was outlawed in Hoplia, which meant that the role of household maid was actually a paid position, just like Colson's. While Mia didn't know what Ellie's salary was, she never saw Ellie doing anything appropriate for her supposed position as Mia's personal maid.
As the role of being Mia's personal maid was considered a higher-ranking position than an ordinary maid, Ellie was allowed to have a room to herself, rather than having to share a room with other servants in the servants' quarters.
Some seconds after the knocking, the snoring stopped and the auburn-haired maid opened the door. "What is it?" She almost growled in a low voice, evidently only being half-awake. "Oh, Lady Mia!" Ellie's grogginess mostly disappeared when she finally noticed who was at her door.
"Where's the breakfast I ordered?" Mia inquired in a sarcastic tone of voice. She had no intentions of telling Ellie that she actually ate breakfast already. It simply didn't matter to her what the maid thought she needed the rats for.
"…Uh, yes, the rats. Wait just one minute!" Ellie ran back into her room and returned while dragging a large cage behind her. Several cantankerous rats were locked together inside the cage, scratching at the bars, along with making ratty sounds of anger at suddenly being dragged out.
"Please, take them away!" Did Ellie like her job of being Mia's personal maid? The answer was that she didn't enjoy it one bit, even if there wasn't much she actually had to do.
She had to serve this creepy child who wanted to eat live rats for breakfast? Seriously? Not only that, Count Hart had actually tasked her with sending reports to him about his daughter's progress, unbeknownst to Mia.
When she reported to the Count that his daughter desired to have live rats for breakfast, he merely chuckled and responded with "Wonderful! As expected of my daughter. Just give her the rats that she wants!"
Just what were this father and daughter pair even thinking? Ellie didn't understand at all, nor did she have any desire to. The only consolation was that the pay at the Hart mansion was much better than any job she could find in town, and that the Count was so devilishly handsome – Ellie felt that none of the strangeness about the Harts mattered as long as he smiled at her, even if she was forced to sleep with rats in her room for an entire night.
Not knowing anything about Ellie's internal conflicts, Mia simply had Colson pick up the cage of rats and left Ellie standing there lost in thought.
As they were leaving the servants' quarters, Mia decided to activate her [Eavesdrop] spell and see if she could hear what was now being said about her.
"That little girl's bedsheets have been so damned hard to wash these days! They're always so sticky! What the hell!?"
"Hey, have you heard? Our little 'Rat Princess' just arrived to pick up a batch of live rats from Ellie for her breakfast! She's really eating them! I saw it with my own eyes, that she stuffed a shrieking rat into her mouth headfirst and bit down with her vicious little chompers!"
"Silence! What is with this unseemly ruckus so early in the morning? As proper servants of the Hart household, you should always address our Lords with their proper titles! If you have the free time to gossip about our masters, you have the time to work! You there, come with me, I have a task just for you!"
Mia recognized this last voice as belonging to Butler Maxwell, who usually served as Barnaby's personal attendant. Why was it that someone like Barnaby had the benefit of such a well-cultured butler at his service? This unexpected way that Maxwell stood up for her, although he was merely enforcing proper etiquette, gave Mia a better impression of this butler that she barely knew and hardly ever saw.
She made a mental note of the butler as someone she could try and get on her side in the future. The only thing was, his direct master had irresolvable conflicts with her stemming from the succession issue. There was no way to know what Butler Maxwell would think once she began to plan against her half-brother, Barnaby Hart.
What was with the tendency for rumors to always get blown out of proportion, anyways? That servant was completely making stuff up now, about how she was seen behaving in such a barbaric fashion and "viciously eating a shrieking rat."
At the very least, Mia suddenly discovered another benefit of being a noble – there was no need for her to explain herself to the servants. Still, if she ever took charge here, she was definitely going to have to do some serious layoffs with the servants.
Mia idly imagined herself pointing at someone and saying, "You're fired!" before she shook her head and put it out of her mind. She had more important things to focus on right now.
They returned to the disused storeroom that Mia had used for her previous rat experiment. After sweeping the surrounding area with [Detection] to make sure that there were no prying eyes, Mia told Colson that it was time to begin the experiment.
"First, I want to make sure that what happened last time was no fluke or lucky coincidence. That's why we're going to repeat the exact same process as the previous time. Colson, could you release one of the rats inside the storeroom?"
Colson glanced over at the cage of rats that he was holding. "How do I do that? There's so many of them that I'm worried some of the other rats will escape when I open the cage."
"Try sprinkling a few drops of this, then." Mia brought out her Paralysis Potion that Dega identified for her yesterday. She figured that since rats were much smaller than humans, it shouldn't require too much Paralysis Potion for the effects to work.
"Is that a Paralysis Potion?" Colson was also able to identify this common potion as he took the bottle. "Where'd you get something like this?"
"Oh, the God of Adventurers gave it to me," Mia mentioned nonchalantly. "I went on a little adventure when I went out without you."
"Really?" Astonishment showed on Colson's face. "I've never heard of the God of Adventurers showing favor to someone so young! Even I didn't receive his favor until I was almost ten years old!"
"Is that so? I didn't know, but that's just how it is." When the Paralysis Potion was sprinkled on the rats in the cage, they noticeably quieted down and stopped struggling so fervently. Mia then took the Paralysis Potion back from Colson, a little proud of herself for having come up with such an idea.
If this had been a game event, she would have likely been forced to use the entire bottle of potion as a "one-use" item, wasting most of the potion. Instead of using the whole bottle, why not just use a few drops in order to conserve resources? She couldn't afford to be so wasteful with what little she had.
"What's the God of Adventurers' goal in handing out so many treasures to those that go on adventures, anyways?" The game hadn't mentioned anything about gods being involved in the storyline at all. Evidently, the lore of any real world was much vaster than any game could possibly depict. Mia couldn't help but wonder about the God of Adventurers' motivations, and if the gods actually played in a role in the future war against the demons that she knew about as well.
"Umm… Actually, I don't know, sorry. You'd have to ask a priest of the God of Adventurers for that. All I know is that he provides assistance to those seeking a life of adventure."
He didn't know? Well, although Mia was a little disappointed, there was nothing she could do about that. Mia decided to begin what they were originally here to do.
"Shall we begin? It should be much easier to release a rat now without having all the others run off. If you're still worried, let's go inside the storeroom first. That way, even if some others escape from the cage, there will be nowhere for them to escape to."
"Milady… Would it be alright with you if I stayed inside here and observed? I'd really like to know what exactly happened here to make the previous rat end up like it did."
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