1

As the purple mana in the air united, a tremendous amount of energy was created.

As the energy reached its peak, the purple mana formed a ring, creating a portal.

“Follow me.”

Merlin, the owner of the used bookstore, went in first and said.

Rosbane and the other children were frightened by the unbelievable sight before them, but when Oliver nodded silently, they quickly gained courage and stepped inside.

Standing in front of Mattel lab officials, Oliver waited until all the children were in.

“.......”

“.......”

“.......”

“.......”

“I’m the last one, Teacher.”

As the awkward silence sank, Rosbane entered the portal.

Oliver nodded and turned to follow him.

And at that moment, a voice was heard from behind.

It was Carl, the white-skinned blond man.

“You... I won’t forget this humiliation.”

At those words... Oliver stopped, turned around, and looked at him silently.

Soon, the image of Colin, the boy who confessed his sins to him, flashed in his mind.

“.......”

Oliver went forward, looked at him, and bowed politely– very politely.

“I... won’t forget either.”

Oliver entered the purple mana portal after exchanging words with Carl.

A strong, cold wind blew over his head as soon as he went inside.

It was not enough to make someone fly, and it was difficult to open his eyes properly.

“You’re a little late. Did you talk to the Mattel guys about something?”

Oliver turned his head in the direction of the sound.

There stood Merlin, with a huge mansion behind his back.

“...Greetings before returning.”

“Greetings?”

“Yes.”

“Huh...! That’s not wrong. Come in. It’s very cold outside.”

Oliver nodded toward Merlin, and at the same time, he tried unconsciously to grasp the surroundings.

The air was clear and fresh, not Landa’s unique air, and the surrounding scenery was not something that could be seen in Landa.

Oliver could see snow enough to cover his feet, the open horizon, and a huge mountain with white snow in the middle.

Even where Oliver was standing was the top of the mountain.

“This is not Landa.”

“Yes, not Landa.”

Merlin answered, opening the door himself.

Taking a step inside, Oliver bowed once in gratitude for the consideration.

When he went inside, he saw Rosbane and other children who were brought from the laboratory, standing still not knowing what to do.

They were frightened by the unfamiliar situation and environment.

As Oliver didn’t know what the situation was either, it felt natural.

All of a sudden, the old man from the bookstore came out of nowhere, helped, opened a portal, and guided them to a mansion on the mountain.

As if he knew what was going on inside of Oliver and the children, Merlin came in leisurely, closing the door, and clapped his hands twice.

Clap! Clap!

A man came out of the house to the sound... No, to be more precise, a wooden doll in the shape of a human.

A wooden doll in a butler’s uniform approached gently, bowed in a straight posture, and silently greeted everyone.

The children were surprised to see the wooden doll and flocked to Oliver.

Looking at which, Merlin said.

“Don’t be afraid, it’s just a golem.”

“Golem?”

“Don’t you know? It’s a doll that moves on magic. If you don’t mind, can you let him look after the children and wash them? I think it’s better to change dress, too.”

Oliver nodded when he saw the half-naked children.

Oliver told Rosbane and the children that they were safe and asked if they could follow the wooden doll.

The children looked frightened, but when they saw Oliver, they nodded courageously.

“Yes, Teacher.”

Rosbane responded as a representative and took the other children along with the wooden doll.

Merlin, who was watching from the side, said when he was left alone with Oliver.

“Amazing. I don’t think they’re the type to follow a golem, but they all seem to listen to your words.”

Oliver didn’t answer, but turned to Merlin and remained silent for a moment.

There was a lot he wanted to ask. How did he come to Mattel’s secret lab, why did he help him, where is this place, and who is he exactly?

However, Oliver bowed and thanked with sincerity after swallowing all the questions.

“Thank you for your help, Elder.”

Merlin looked at the figure silently and said.

“Huh... This is unexpected. I thought you’d ask questions first.”

“There are many questions I want to ask, but there is an order for everything. First of all, thank you very much for your help.”

The old man fixed his posture.

Since he straightened the bent posture he showed in the bookstore, he appeared 1.5 times taller.

“...You should be grateful. It’s not so common for me to help someone. I’m saying this because you shouldn’t take my help for granted.”

He meant what he said, and Oliver nodded as if agreeing with his words.

The old man seemed to have as much to say as Oliver, but he looked inside the mansion and said,

“Let’s deal with the urgent matter first.”

“......”

“First, why don’t we feed those young friends, put them to sleep, and then talk?”

Oliver nodded.

“Yes.”

The old man summoned more wooden doll golems to prepare food.

Apparently, there were no people in this mansion.

All Oliver could see through the large window was the clear sky, snow, and rocky mountains, so it felt it would be rather strange to have someone working there.

After a while, there was a smell of delicious food.

It smelled just as good as what could be smelled from the Forrest restaurant.

Perhaps because they felt hungry when relaxed, the children ate in a hurry under Merlin’s supervision.

“You should sit down and eat, too. They’re pretty good at cooking.”

Merlin recommended Oliver, sitting just to the left of the top seat.

Oliver sat on the left side of the top seat, opposite Merlin as he recommended.

“Did Golems cook this?”

“Yes, I don’t know how to cook.”

As soon as he answered, a wooden doll-golem poured wine into Merlin and Oliver’s glasses.

It poured it neatly without spilling a drop, like a skilled employee.

When Oliver saw the figure, he realized that it was a golem with high-level skills, contrary to their appearance.

It was his first time seeing a proper Golem, but he could sense that it was not an ordinary one when he saw the flow of mana flowing through the body and sophisticated movements.

He could understand that the maker’s skills were incredible, maybe like someone who only studied golems all his life.

After a while, the children finished their meals, shining with satisfaction and happiness.

When they felt safe and relieved of their hunger, the children began to doze off one by one as if they had been all tired.

Merlin ordered the wooden doll golems to take the children to the bedroom, obeying which, they gently hugged the children and took them away.

When Oliver stared at the golem, Merlin said.

“They’ll put everyone to sleep safely, so don’t worry, mate.”

“I know. I just thought the wooden doll golems were made very well, so I looked.”

“Huh...! It’s embarrassing to get it wrong once again. But aren’t you being too careless, mate? I might be a bad guy, too?”

“I don’t think you are.”

“On what grounds you’re saying that, mate? Ah, since you are an excellent Warlock, can you see through my emotions?”

Oliver shook his head.

Merlin’s emotions could not be seen at the moment.

As if a thick, opaque glass was blocking Merlin’s emotions, Oliver could not read them.

“I can’t see it.”

“Great. I don’t like it when someone sees through me. Then, why do you believe I’m not a bad guy?”

“It’s just a feeling. At least I don’t think you’re someone who will hurt the kids.”

At that moment Merlin’s emotions were dimly visible.

“...thank you for that. Old men should be loved by children. How does the wine taste? I picked a pretty valuable one because it’s been a long time since I had a guest.”

Oliver said, looking at the wine when asked an unexpected question.

“It tastes good.”

“Tastes good... Do you know about wines?”

“No, but I feel it’s a good wine.”

“You have a good “feeling”. It’s a wine made in the Bol district of Gallos. It’s a tribe that has nothing to show but mechanical engineering and wine.”

Gallos. It was a name that Oliver had heard somewhere.

“...is it a foreign country?”

Merlin chuckled at the words.

“...Right from the first time I met you, you’re really a funny guy, mate.”

Oliver thought about the first time he met Merlin and wondered whether he did anything funny.

“Am I?”

“Yes. Thanks to you, I had a wonderful time recently.”

“No, Thanks to the books Elder recommended I had a lot of fun.”

“To call studying fun, I want my students to be like that.”

“Um... Are you a teacher, Elder?”

“Teacher? Well, not completely wrong. I have disciples, so of course, I’m a teacher... Hmm... Are you tired, mate?”

Oliver straightened himself up in amazement.

He tried to hide it because he thought it would be rude to show that he was tired.

Merlin shook his hand as if he was fine.

“Didn’t I tell you last time? As you get older, it’s not just the wrinkles that increase. It’s not hard to recognize someone who’s tired.”

“I’m sorry.”

“There’s nothing to be sorry about. As a host I should be considerate so that you can rest, but... I have no intention of doing that.”

“....??”

“You owe me, mate. You do know that, right?”

“Yes...”

“That’s how everyone answers. However, they don’t really know how much help they received or how hard the other person worked. Well, that’s natural. After all, that’s what humans are all about.”

Oliver was silent because he had nothing to say. Because he too didn’t realize how hard it was for Merlin to actually help.

After thinking about it for a while, he opened his mouth.

“...so, can you tell me?”

“You want me to tell you?”

“Yes. I certainly don’t know how hard it was for you. I don’t know anything about it. So could you tell me about it so that I can thank you properly?”

The old man’s eyes grew slightly larger.

Then he burst into laughter.

“...Hohohohhohoho.... That’s the second time I’ve heard such a sensible answer in my life. All right, I’ll tell you.”

Oliver nodded.

“Thanks to this help, some people will bug me for a while. I managed to find peace after retirement, but that peace will be broken. Thanks to you. What’s more painful than losing the peace in the last years?”

It wasn’t an empathetic story, but Oliver nodded.

“And... I got to go meet a pain in the ass old friend.”

“Is it the Grand Mage of the School of Life magic?”

Oliver asked, recalling the conversation between Merlin and Carl.

“That’s right. A guy with some screws loose, but one of the heads of the Magic Tower... I should have a talk with him. It’s quite annoying, but I got to do thanks to you again.”

“I see.”

“Above all else, you committed a big crime.”

“Crime?”

“That’s right. Didn’t you go to make a fuss without paying back my loan? And if you had died, what would have happened to my loan? That’s very irresponsible. Shame on you, mate.”

Merlin said, waving his fingers like a grandfather scolding a child.

It was not something to be said by an old man who built a mansion on the top of a rare snow mountain, but Oliver did not care about it and apologized again sincerely.

Whatever it may be, it was true that Oliver did not pay the debt and forgot about it.

“I’m really sorry.”

“It’s a big crime, mate. Stealing the price of my legitimate labor..... But I’ll forgive you... especially since you asked for forgiveness. It’s 4 million. Make sure you pay me back.”

“... Wasn’t it 3.9 million?”

“Since you made me move to receive it, that’s an additional charge, it’s common sense, mate. Don’t make me angry.”

“Um... I see.”

“But... just pay 3.9 million. Instead, you owe me one. Don’t look at me like that, mate. This is the adult world. Anyway, because of you, I have to endure a lot of inconveniences.”

“Yes, Elder.”

“So I want to be rewarded...”

Oliver said, nodding his head.

“If you give me a little time, I’ll try to raise as much money as I can.”

“What do you see me as, mate? Do I look like a money bug who tries to extort money from a young chap?”

“... Um... No?”

“The answer came out a little late and why are you answering with a question mark?... Anyway, I don’t really want money. Although I’m not the richest man in the world, I have enough money.”

Oliver was convinced. This mansion and golem were the evidence.

“Um... then, how can I repay you?”

“Hm... First, give me the most precious thing you have as a sign of your sincerity.”

Oliver frowned at the sudden suggestion.

“When you get older, you start complaining like a child. So, c’mon, give me the most precious thing you have. Of course, you don’t have to if you don’t like it. There’s no coercion, but y’know...”

Oliver pondered for a moment about Merlin’s ambiguous words and then held out the quarterstaff.

“Um... this is my most precious thing.”

“What’s that? That looks like an old, dirty cane”

“Yes, but my friend gave it to me as a gift. My first friend.”

“Maybe as an antique, it might be a valuable thing.”

“But I don’t think I can give you this.”

“Are you kidding, mate?”

“No, I’m not. It’s just that it’s something I got as a gift, and I don’t think it’s completely mine. Even if I hand it over to Elder, I think I should ask for permission from the owner. So, I’d like to ask if I can replace it with something else.”

“Well, I honestly don’t like it very much, here you go...”

Oliver collected the quarterstaff and took a test tube out of his pocket.

There was a small amount of emotion in the test tube. It was Oliver’s emotions.

“Is that...?”

“It’s my emotion.”

“...yours?”

“Yes.”

Oliver held out the test tube, and Merlin accepted.

He said, looking at the emotion with interest.

“Emotion is something important to a Warlock, but I wonder if it will replace the most precious object?”

“It’s an important item for me. That’s my first.”

“First?”

“Yes, that’s the emotion I pulled out the first time without inhaling Pilgaret. I was originally going to study it, but I’ll give it to Elder.”

Merlin stared at Oliver and said.

“All right. Suddenly I’m interested in this. I hope you didn’t cheat an innocent old man.”

“Yes.”

Merlin said, putting a test tube into his pocket.

“Well, now I want to be rewarded. The more trouble I have to go through, the more things I need to receive. By any chance, do you want to talk later? You look tired.”

“Honestly, I want to rest a little.”

“Good, but you can’t. When people are tired, their true nature comes out.”

“Um, I can’t help it. What should I do?”

“Fight me.”

“Pardon?”

The moment Oliver asked back, Merlin grabbed Oliver by his shoulder and instantaneously transported him somewhere.