Zanoba Shirone. The third prince of the Shirone Kingdom. A miko1 who possessed superhuman strength from birth.
He's a deviant. Undeniably a deviant. You could perhaps say that he's a figurine otaku taken to the extreme. Before he had noticed, he was gazing at dolls everyday. When he feels like it, he'll gently pat the dolls.
He'll never treat a doll roughly. Though he'll be unable to suppress his superhuman strength when he gets excited, he'll never make a mistake in handling the dolls.
He might be in love with dolls.
Right, he loves dolls. He dotes on them.
For example, in his room is a copper statue of a naked woman. I hear that he had caught sight of it in town, and bought it on impulse.
It's the naked figure of a slim, but bewitching girl.
When I had first looked for Zanoba's room, he was hugging that statue in the nude. It was my fault for trying to surprise him by entering without knocking. There's no doubt that I was in the wrong, but when Zanoba saw me he flusteredly put on clothes, and bowed his head in an unsightly manner.
I'm fine even if he doesn't go out of his way to explain what he was doing hugging it naked.
His love for dolls is abnormal. It still snows occasionally, up here in the north. It's cold outside, and it goes without saying how cold a statue would be. Though on the verge of getting frostbite, he was satisfying his desires. It was devotion to a level that no one else could imitate.★
However, it's not abnormal to an extent that I can't understand it. In my past life, I had "used" figurines as well, after all. However, I've never used the Holy Statue (Roxy Figurine) for that. It's something unacceptable after all.
...Speaking of which, I didn't see a Roxy doll in Zanoba's room. Did he perhaps leave it in Shirone?
That Zanoba, on a certain day...
He suddenly performed a dogeza in front of me. It was something that happened at night. In my hand was the figurine I was making.
"Shishou, please teach me how to create dolls(figurines)!"
Over this past month, I've been continuing to tell Zanoba to wait a little longer. Though he had been patiently "waiting" like a pet dog, it seems that he finally reached his limits.
"Did we not make a promise!? Why have we not began our lessons yet!?"
Zanoba was a little angry. Of course I had no reason to refuse. I had promised him after all. For the sake of teaching him I had been practising to rehabilitate my skills. There was also the fact that my everyday life hadn't calmed down yet, that I was still far away from achieving my ultimate goal, and that I hadn't found a chance to teach him yet.
"...My dear Zanoba. This training of mine will be harsh, you know."
I had deliberately spoken rather affectedly, and Zanoba was taken aback. He then nodded solemnly.
"Of course. Shishou, please do not underestimate me. Even if I have to vomit blood, I'll learn the heart of Shishou's doll creation method."
"Mmmn. You have spirit."
And like that, I began to teach Zanoba my doll creation methods.
Using the time before bed, I'd teach him about 1~2 hours a day.
I had my own motives as well. His love towards dolls was the real thing. Additionally, he was royalty; he was rich.
I had given up on colouring the dolls, and on my dreams of mass producing dolls, but it might be possible with his influence.
First, I'd mass produce Roxy dolls. In the past I had created it as a unique item, but the art of creating bronze statues as well as the art of creating western styled dolls existed in this world. Even if the craftsmanship quality falls, appropriating these two techniques should allow me to mass produce them.
After that would be Ruijerd dolls. Using the real history as a basis, I would write books that glorified the Supard clan. It'd be filled with battle scenes that the people of this world love so much, and in contrast to the depictions of famous heroes, it'd be about a man who never gave up and the suffering and conflicts that he faced as he endeavoured. It would come with a figurine.
The figurine would come with the book as a gift. After all, it makes a big difference to show the protagonist visually. If this turned out to be a success, it might be nice to produce books that depicted Roxy and her glorious exploits next.
Alright, we can do it. Though it might be impossible on my own, no matter what they may say about him, Zanoba is still royalty. He's rich. He's got passion as well. As a partner for this enterprise, there'd surely be no one better.
There's a saying about counting chickens before they've hatched. It was surely a fitting description for me at the time.
"Well then, I'll teach you my secret techniques!"
Our doll creating was just beginning.
Let's just start with the conclusion.
He couldn't do it. Zanoba couldn't use chantless earth magic to create dolls.
There were two reasons. First there was the fact that he couldn't control chantless magic. Second of all, there was the fact that he lacked my overwhelming mana capacity.
Thinking about it, there are hardly any people in this world who can use chantless magic. Among the people I've met, there were only Orsted, Fitts, and Sylphy. In this school there was one more; a teacher who could use chantless wind magic. However, I was told that he died last year. Since I had been able to use it since childhood, it had never really occurred to me but chantless magic was a high level technique. Thinking back on it, Eris and Ghyslaine weren't able to learn chantless magic either. Since it was like that, there was no way a person who just started learning magic like Zanoba would be able to use it.
Moreover, the issue of mana capacity is an important one. When I create figures, my mana is consumed continuously. I use up a considerable amount of mana to produce them.
It was then that I understood it for the first time. It seems that somehow or other, the amount of mana I have is far greater than others. No, strictly speaking I had vaguely noticed it. I thought that I had more than the average. However, I hadn't thought that it'd be so far above the average. When I was an adventurer and I had seen magicians who ran out of mana, I would think something like "they've been wasting their mana on useless things". To express things numerically, if we said that a normal magician had 100 mana points, I had thought that I was around 500 or so. However, the reality is that it seems I have much, much more than that. To think that Zanoba couldn't produce even a single doll part.
Well, leaving me aside for now, Zanoba put in great effort.
Waking up early, he'd use up his mana until he fainted, then when he woke up, he'd use up his mana until he fainted. He repeated this all day long. It might be because he'd continued to use his mana until he reached his limits, but his cheeks were thinning and starting to sag a little. His face was like a skeleton, and was wet with tears and mucus. He didn't have talent in the thing he wanted to do most. That much was obvious.
I've done something quite cruel to him. I reflected on it. Doing so, I apologised.
Zanoba shook his head and replied without any power.
"No, if I was more talented..."
The figure of a man stricken with grief. The figure of a loser, surrounded by a shroud of sorrow. It wouldn't be good to give up here.
I think about things.
It really is quite pitiful that Zanoba can't even manage the first step in creating figurines. Even so, it can't be helped since chantless magic is impossible for him. Since he lacks enough mana as well, it's probably impossible for him to create figurines using the same method that I do.
"Alright. Let's change the creation method."
I spontaneously reach such a conclusion.
"There's another way of doing it!?"
The grieving Zanoba suddenly recovered, and now leans in towards me.
"Yeah. Let's try a method that uses mana as little as possible."
Saying this, I create a lump of earth. It's clay.
"Though I used magic to create this, you should probably be able to find this naturally in the wild."
Just where do people get clay? I hear that famous potters like to seclude themselves in the mountains, but the mountains and forests in this world are dangerous. Although, those golem things seem to be made of something like clay, and you can probably obtain clay even without having to dig up the earth yourself.
"What are you going to do with that?"
"I'm going to carve it."
It's the oldest method, the most reliable method, but also the most difficult method.
I'll create the figurine parts one by one by carving the clay. If I do things like this, it should be possible to create figurines even without using mana. There's the problem of lacking the appropriate carving tools, but we can probably work it out by looking for a magic item in town. In the past, I've seen things like knives that can cut through stone like butter.
"I see, Shishou! With this method, even I should be able to do it!" said Zanoba in a cheerful voice.
His expression was filled with hope.
His hope was very simply crushed.
Zanoba couldn't use his fingers skilfully. The cause was an ability he possessed since birth.
Indeed, he was hindered by that superhuman strength. He could keep it in check enough that he didn't destroy everything. However, that was as far as he could control it. It was difficult to perform the delicate work required to carve the parts.
Zanoba persevered each day with bloodshot eyes. His passion was the real thing.
Without even a wink of sleep, he immersed himself in doll creation until he almost starved himself to death. Because it hadn't gone the way he had wanted, he redid things again and again. Each time he would cry, shout and let out strange noises.
And then it would be finished; the doll that he had created from scratch.
It couldn't be called beautiful by any means. The workmanship was bad, and had it been in my previous life, I might have laughed at it in scorn. It was like the badly done joke photoshops that you could find in abundance on the internet. However, I knew. I knew that this was his passion. I'd never laugh at him. However, even without me laughing, Zanoba himself could tell that it was badly done.
"Shishou, I can't do it... I... can't do it the way Shishou does it!"
Zanoba cried. Unable to create what he saw in his mind, he cried. Stricken with grief, he seemed like he had no energy left to stand.
From the beginning of our lessons to the end was 2 months. Even seeing Zanoba's depressed and worn out expression, there was nothing I could do.
"And that's how it is."
I had consulted Fitts-senpai. Asking someone else for advice about my student; I was truly shameful as a shishou. However, I still wanted to rely on someone else's wisdom. Zanoba was too pitiful after all.
Fitts-senpai couldn't really understand. Whilst sitting on some chairs that were lined up inside the library, he listened to my story and then tilted his head in puzzlement.
"Yes. That's basically how it is."
Using earth magic, I create a simple doll to show him. It was a simple doll without any clothing, and was a bit like a Sa○bobo2.
Fitts-senpai stared at my hands, and looked fixedly at the doll I had finished making. Then as though wondering if he could do it as well, he gathers mana into his fingertips and creates a wiggly something or other that was a bit like slime. Considering that he had just tried to copy me on the spot, he really was amazing.
However, it seems that it didn't turn out the way he wanted. In the end Fitts-senpai sighed and gave up.
"I can't do it."
Well, creating figures is something that I've been diligently practising for a long time now, and is an accumulation of the techniques that I've studied. If it was something that could be easily imitated just by looking, I'd cry. Nevertheless, it feels to me that if Fitts-senpai practised, he'd be able to do it. In the first place, he's someone who can use chantless magic.
"This is something that a normal person can't imitate."
"That's true. I had thought that another method involving carving from a lump of clay would work out, but..."
"Since he was clumsy with his hands, he couldn't do it, you said."
Fitts-senpai let out a 'Mmmmm' and was thinking about it with his hand to his chin. It seems to be a habit of his to bring his hand to his chin when he thinks. It might be because of the sunglasses, but it looks awfully uncomfortable. Incidentally, when he's awkward or embarrassed, he'll scratch his cheek or behind his ears. It's an action that's quite suiting of his age, and suits him really well. However, since elves are long-lived, he might not be as young as he seems.
"Mmmm, let's see. I'm not sure if you'll be able to use them as a reference, but there are people like him in the Asura capital as well."
"People like him?"
"Mmn. People who have things they want to do themselves, but lack the ability or skill."
"What do these people do?"
When I asked that, Fitts-senpai seemed a little reluctant to answer and scratched himself behind the ear.
"Ummm, well, they get slaves to do it."
According to Fitts-senpai, those people in the capital had the knowledge, but lacked the skill. That's why they would buy slaves, train those slaves, and had the slaves create what they wanted.
"According to what I've heard, that Zanoba-kun likes the dolls that you make, Rudeus-kun, and because he wants more of them, he wants to create them himself, right?"
"...Huh? Was that what I said?"
"Umm, that's how it sounded to me?"
Is that so? But still, normally even if you liked figurines, you'd just paint them yourself or remodel them; you wouldn't think to create them from scratch yourself. When I was alive, at best I was an average remodeller.
"I'm sure that Zanoba-kun wanted you as his personal doll-maker, Rudeus-kun, but he himself knew that it'd be impossible and so that might be why he said something like becoming your student, right?"
"Well, I don't think it'd be impossible though."
Employed by Zanoba in the Shirone Royal Palace, and spending each day making figurines. In the end, a lifestyle like that might not be bad. Working for a royal palace would probably mean a stable income. Speaking of which, how much does Fitts-senpai get from Princess Ariel each month?
...It feels like it'd be rude to ask, huh?
"Well, I'll try suggesting it to Zanoba once. Thank you very much."
"Mn, you're very welcome."
When I bowed, Fitts-senpai smiled bashfully. Why is it that I feel so startled when I see that smiling face of his?
It's a mystery.
The mysterious man, Fitts. Truly a mystery.
Buy a slave, teach them, and they'll be able to create dolls. When I told Zanoba about this idea, he agreed.
As I expected, he began making arrangements to buy a slave with great joy.
It seems that he had originally wanted to create them himself. However, it seems that he realised that since it was impossible, there was no choice but to give up in it. Unexpectedly, the method that Fitts-senpai had suggested was typical for this world. Be that as it may, for a student to ask their shishou to teach a slave instead of themselves was quite rude it seems. After all, in the beginning Zanoba tried to learn it until he was vomiting blood. That's why although he couldn't bring up the topic, when I suggested it instead, he was relieved.
"And so our next monthly break, we'll be going to the slave market."
Once again, I expressed my thanks to Fitts-senpai. As someone who gave me advice when I was troubled, I really was thankful to him.
"I see. It'd be good if you found a good slave."
And like that, the topic came to a close. Though it had come to a close, afterwards Fitts-senpai was a little fidgety. What to say?
"Speaking of which, I'm free as well next monthly-break."
"Is that so?"
"Mn. And so, umm, I don't have anything to do, and I was thinking to visit the town, but it's not like there's anywhere I wanted to go in particular... I don't have any friends, so I'd be going by myself..."
From his fragmented speech, and his occasional glances towards me, he conveyed what he meant.
Is this okay for a guard?
Wouldn't it be bad if he wasn't near the princess when something happened?
...Well, that's not for me to worry about.
I'm sure Luke would be able to deal with it somehow.
"Umm, would you like to come with us, senpai?"
"Is that okay? Wouldn't I bother you?"
"It's fine. As thanks for your advice, I'll treat you to a meal."
"Really? Then I'll accept."
Saying that, Fitts-senpai smiled bashfully.
Like that, the plan was for the three of us to go to the slave market.
I had originally thought to make the subheading one of the following:
"Rudeus vs Zanoba"
"Shishou's Mana Capacity Is the Greatest in the Woooooooooooooooorld!"
"A Flower in Each Hand!? Heart-Throbbing Shopping with Prince Super-Strength and Prince Bashful!"
but I decided against it.