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He has two bodyguards with him but other than them, I can sense a number of other presences inside the room as well.

「Hey little lady, how nice of you to come.
Sit down.」

The presumed boss told us to sit down, so Ciel sat on the expensive-looking sofa and immediately a steaming cup of tea was served.
Atlo was the one that served it, but when did she have the time to prepare that?

On second thought, would you mind if we switch for the discussion?』
『Not at all.
Do you have something you want to ask?』
『Could you ask why this current situation happened?』
『I’ll try as best as I can.』

Since Ciel requested a switch, I agreed without any hesitation.
As I thought, talking to men for extended periods of time might still be too much for Ciel.
Instead of abruptly starting with a situation like this, it would be better if she started with talking to a male guild receptionist and the like.
Rather, if I’m being honest, Ciel doesn’t need to work that hard while we’re still in this country.

「My name is Faneed.
Despite how I look, I occupy the underground top.」
「Thank you for the explanation.
You can call me little lady or Blan, whichever you may prefer.」
「An alias, right?」

「Of course it is.
By the way, is this a place for discussion? Or is it otherwise,……」

Saying so, I moved my gaze all over the room.
It’s a bother to count, but there should be at least 20 of them.
Being surrounded by this many people, I can’t help suspecting if they intend to start a fight.
Hearing my words, one of the bodyguards was about to come towards me, but Faneed stopped him.

「This is indeed a place for discussion.
As long as you don’t start anything, I won’t do a thing.」
「Then this means that you would treat yesterday’s as an isolated incident, right?」
「That’s fine.
Just a hypothetical question but, Miss.
Blan, would you be able to deal with this current situation? 」
「If the people around me are only as capable as last night’s individuals, this much won’t be any problem.」
「Okay, understood.」

Faneed raised his hands up, showing a sign of surrender.
While I’m not actually sure if it really was surrender, it seems like we’ll be able to have a proper discussion.

「But before the talk, apologies first.
Pardon our young guy for being rude earlier.
If you have any demands, I’ll hear it.」

His tone turning slightly formal is probably a display of his dignity as someone standing at the top of an organization or something.
As for why he has a piercing gaze despite declaring that he’ll listen to our demands, it probably means that we might get into a conflict depending on what it is, but honestly I have no intention of making demands that would cause confrontations.
In that regard, Ciel probably isn’t that much different.
If she wanted anything, she would have told me about it earlier after all.

「For now, please raise your head.
I don’t have any particular intention to be in conflict with you and your people.
It seems bothersome after all.」
「Ha, ha, ha! Bothersome, eh?」

Faneed raised his head and laughed in amusement.
Shifting my gaze to Atlo, who was standing diagonally behind me, I see her staring at me with interest.

「With that being said, could we start with reaffirming the current situation?
I just arrived at the capital, was urged into an inn, had my dinner drugged, and had assassins sent to me.
So honestly speaking, I can only make assumptions based on the situation.」
「They weren’t really there to kill you, so they aren’t exactly assassins per se.
Still, your assumptions shouldn’t be that far off, if you ask me.」
「Then from your standpoint, you intended to abduct and sell me to some unspecified noble for money, correct?」
「That’s right.
We do slave trading too, though it’s not like we just randomly abduct people.
Unusually we act based on proper contracts, you see?」

Faneed let out an exhausted sigh.
Depending on one’s standpoint, he could be seen as a victim here as well.
Not that it’s any of my business.
After all, I’m not really mad enough to get too involved nor do I even feel like doing so.
There are some aspects that make him seem somewhat of a good guy too, but I can guess his contract itself is probably unreasonable to begin with.

「Then outside of that, people with vague identities that wouldn’t cause issues even when abducted should sound about perfect.
Such as me.
I can imagine being the perfect target.」
「Though, who would’ve thought that the collateral I was given was a stolen royal artifact.」
「One last thing, what’s your relationship with the merchant couple that sold me?」
「They’re customers.」

The “stolen royal artifact” line is probably an idiom unique to this world.
Well, I can figure that it means being given a troublesome thing or so.
Then if the merchant couple is a customer of their organisation, I finally have a good read on the situation.

「Anyhow, this will be my first demand but could I have a chat with said merchant couple?
You brought them here anyway, correct?」

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As I said so, Faneed called one of his subordinates—a man that was among those hiding—and told him something.
Without even several minutes passing, the man brought already along a familiar-looking couple.
They seemingly had an extremely frightened look on their faces as they entered, and as they saw me, their eyes opened wide with shock.



Heya~! New Chapter, new characters, and new chatting room, lol.
Things went quite quick this time, with the “suspicious VIP treatment” event’s mastermind (?) immediately coming to light!

As usual with our overprotective Ain, she’s still not satisfied with her currently already abnormal invincibility and continues on the uphill struggle as she’s not getting satisfying results for now as well.
Meanwhile, while Ciel didn’t have much active participation this time, her being irritated at the ceiling guy was cute, lol.
Also, Ain, Blan… Seriously? How much of your mind is occupied by Ciel? (Just kidding, lol.)

As for the new characters, we have some underground people this time: Secretary (?) Atlo and Boss Faneed or as Ain fondly implies, the Beauty and the Beast, lol.
Unlike our lowbrow villains so far, the boss has a functioning brain that runs not only on hubris and impulse it seems.
Well, the man is somewhere on top at least, so it’s only natural that he’s different huh.
Also, it’s just a tiny thing, but I love the idiom thing, it’s a small world building thing that says, yup, there’s been either a lot of royal artifacts that has been sold to unsuspecting criminals so far that it literally turned into an underground idiom or that the one time it happened in the past went really, *really* bad enough to be etched into history.

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