Author: She is not a heroine. Just in case.
The first thing we did after gathering was to introduce ourselves.
Our party has me, Ringo, Mitsuki, Maki, Sazan, and Ina.
The residents of the manor are: the head, Shizun; butler, Elm; maid, Rirumu; eldest son, Fai; eldest daughter, Mizu <Water>; second son, Earth; and the second daughter, Fuu <Wind>.
I know both sides, so I am an aside, but it must be really difficult to remember 13 people at once.
Maki had industriously taken out a notepad and was writing down the information.
Once the self-introductions are over, I think it will go to making countermeasures for the case, but…
“If it is exactly as the theft notice states, the culprit will be moving at night. There would be no point draining ourselves being on edge the whole time. How about we act freely until 6:00 p.m?” (Shizun)
Shizun-san said this.
You might think that’s really naive, but this is the basic route of this quest.
We know that the culprit won’t move until night, and there’s no reason for me to object.
I thought Mitsuki would be the one to complain out of anyone here, but the person herself only had her cat ears twitch and stayed silent.
“…If I use the Explorer Ring, it is the same no matter where anyone is.” (Mitsuki)
Mitsuki must have sensed my questioning look, she answered me in a low voice.
She really is someone I don’t want as an enemy.
Maybe because of the policy of letting things flow, there were no objections from our side, and the proposal of Shizun-san was accepted.
We agreed to gather at the barrier room at 6, and we decided to move freely until then.
Honestly speaking, this is just adjusting the time in the case you arrive at the Aken residence early, but you could say this is the opportunity for the player to do some preliminary investigation before the actual case.
Maki, who is acting like a detective, wanted to begin the investigation at once, but I told her investigating the inside of the residence comes first.
And so, we decided to get guided inside the Aken manor.
However, Shizun-san was busy and the butler Elm-san returned to his job of keeping watch of the barrier room.
And so, the job of guide ended up being passed to…
“N-Now then, I -Riruru- will be e-everyone’s guide toshay!” (Riruru)
It is the useless maid-san that was pouring tea excessively in the room before.
Mitsuki raised a brow at the maid who was already clattering her teeth like crazy.
“Riruru…-san? If I remember correctly, in the self-introduction of before, your name was Rirumu though.” (Mitsuki)
“Ah, I-I am sorry! I-I was so nervous that I got my name wrong!” (Rirumu)
Her shocking words baffled everyone.
This is something I thought at the Hisame dojo too, but clumsy maids are only forgiven in fictional stories, and it would be disconcerting in reality.
The first thing you would want to do is shout at them why they hired someone like this.
Even if you accept those parts, mistaking your name is not on the level of clumsy, but already in the realm of forgetful.
But this useless maid that is without doubt a product of fiction didn’t read the room like the useless maid she is, and continued her self-introduction.
“U-Uhm, I am the maid, Rimuru! N-Nice to meet you all.” (Rimuru)
Shock ran through my comrades at the sudden 3rd name that showed up.
Not only Ina, even Sazan took a step back, Mitsuki looked calm but her cat ears went ‘shaa!’ as if trying to intimidate with its hairs standing up.
“…Souma, do men like something like that?” (Maki)
Maki directed eyes of criticism at me.
“N-No, that’s not…” (Souma)
I was about to finish what I said, but the maid that heard us came over here.
“E-Excuse me, do you have a questio—kyaaah!!” (Rirumu)
She slipped on the carpet and fell on top of me.
What I could feel from my hands that caught her were two squishy things that don’t fit her small body.
“I-I-I am sorry!” (Rirumu)
“D-Don’t mind it…” (Souma)
I responded to the maid that was all flustered while thinking this has its charms in its own way.
“Souma, you really…” (Maki)
“…Souma, come back!” (Ringo)
The cold eyes of Maki and the voice of Ringo as she held my arm tightly made me snap back.
…Good grief, this template useless maid is fearsome.
This is something I already knew, but the guiding of the useless maid was a train wreck.
“Uuh, what you can see at the right is, uuh…eeeh…a painting!!” (Rirumu)
“Yes, we can tell.” (Mitsuki)
There are pieces of art in important points of the manor that seem like they have some incredible history, but she has practically no knowledge of them.
“Ah, what we have here are…stairs.” (Rirumu)
“…And what’s on the second floor?” (Mitsuki)
“The second floor? Uuuh, eeeeh…ah, my room is there!” (Rirumu)
“…I see.” (Mitsuki)
Mitsuki would throw in some assistance at times, but destroying them all was the power of this useless maid.
It seems she at least can feel that she is lacking here. By the time we went around the 1st floor and arrived at the 2nd floor, the maid was speaking a whole lot less than before.
This time around, it is Maki who speaks as if following up on this.
“B-But the pieces of art here are incredible. See, this vase has really bold colors, and it is as if the color of the vase went out and colored the pillar too. It feels really artistic…” (Maki)
“Ah, I-I am sorry! That’s because I dropped a bucket of red paint…” (Rirumu)
Maki fell silent with a face as if red paint had been spilled on her face, and as if taking her place, Sazan began speaking, looking at an armor that was nearby.
“Hmph, I don’t know about art, but I can tell that the Aken family is a household of warriors. The many scratches and dents etched on this armor, these are truly the marks of a—” (Sazan)
“Ah, I-I am sorry! That’s because I crashed and dropped it countless times…” (Rirumu)
Mitsuki stood to the front as if taking the place of Sazan who had fallen silent.
“Speaking of sights, the making of this vase is impressive. If you look carefully, there’s small patterns up and down—” (Mitsuki)
“Ah, I-I am sorry! I broke that vase before, so I glued it together with instant super glue, but the cracks remained…” (Rirumu)
“…E-Even if so, that’s quite the skillful repair. I am impressed.” (Mitsuki)
Different from the two, she managed to barely get a word in, but her cat ears were going ‘I want to jump into a hole if there’s one!’ and were completely bent as if hiding themselves.
Mitsuki was also shot down.
That’s when Ina bravely jumped in as if saying it was now her turn.
“S-Speaking of art, this stone statue…” (Ina)
“Ina-san, that’s a wooden statue.” (Mitsuki)
But Mitsuki pointed out her mistake before the useless maid could speak, and that was the end of her.
However, the maid approached Ina with sparkling eyes in contrast to Ina who has her shoulders drooped.
“I feel like I could become friends with you, Ina-san!!” (Rirumu)
“P-Please wait! I am happy about that, but why did you arrive at that conclusion?!” (Ina)
After Ina showed her own clumsy side of hers, we went up to the 3rd floor.
“U-Uhm, the barrier room is over here, and Elm-san is keeping watch there, so please keep it low… Cause Elm-san…is really scary when angry!” (Rirumu)
The moment we arrived at the 3rd floor, the useless maid said this with a not so silent voice, and Elm-san, who was guarding the door of the barrier room looked over here.
And directed a fearsome smile at the useless maid.
“I-I am sorry! I am sorry!” (Rirumu)
“Ah, hey…” (Souma)
The useless maid hid behind me from how scared she got.
“I will only break 3 plates a day from now on! I will make sure to spill drinks that are not too hot! That’s why, please spare meeee!!” (Rirumu)
She shouted conditions as if she were conceding yet it didn’t sound like she was doing so at all while she clunk onto me. Something soft was being pushed onto my back.
By the time formulas were jumping around in my head from this hectic situation, Maki and Ina had torn the useless maid away from me.
And at the same time as they did, Ringo pulled my arm and moved me even further away from the useless maid.
“You calm down a bit.” (Mitsuki)
Even Mitsuki, who was reprimanding her, was a bit baffled by this.
On the other hand, I had now calmed down after being freed from the threat that was the chest of the useless maid, and looked around the 3rd floor.
“There are a whole lot of rooms that look the same.” (Souma)
This is something that I thought about in the game and when we were with Shizun-san before, but there’s not a lot of decorations in the 3rd floor compared to the 1st and 2nd floor.
And yet, the corridor is long, and the several doors of rooms are the exact same, so it feels like you would be lost immediately if you are not familiar with this place.
If I had to point out something that could serve as a guiding point, it would be…
“Ah, this armor, it is the same as the one below.” (Maki)
The western style full armor that Maki found.
It is completely the same design as the one in the lower floor, and it is the same in the part that it has scratches and dents here and there too.
“Can you get inside and move?” (Maki)
“G-Get inside of it? I-I think it would be difficult. It wasn’t made to be worn to begin with, so it is heavy, and there’s the issue of size.” (Rirumu)
“I see…” (Maki)
It is true that the size wouldn’t match Earth or Fuu who are small, and Shizun-san who is plump and the useless maid that is bountiful in one area wouldn’t be able to use it.
The useless maid must have been happy to be questioned, she continued her explanation.
“This armor is seriously heavy. The only ones who can carry this alone in this manor are me, Elm-san, and Fai-san. That’s right, despite appearances, I am strong!” (Rirumu)
That’s where the useless maid appealed her strength with a puffed out chest, but there’s obviously something else here that’s being emphasized more.
“A-And so, whose room is the one beside the barrier room?” (Souma)
The eyes of Ringo and Ina were stabbing at me when I was looking at the useless maid, so I hurriedly changed the topic.
I actually know the arrangement of the rooms in this manor, but I should be able to divert the topic with this.
“Eh? Uuh, that’s…” (Rirumu)
“The one at the left is the room of Mizu-sama; the one on the right is currently an empty room.” (Elm)
The one who answered instead of the pondering useless maid was the butler Elm-san.
“M-My job!” (Rirumu)
Maki moved to the front, leaving aside the useless maid who is shocked here.
“Would you mind showing us the empty room?” (Maki)
“Go ahead. It shouldn’t be locked.” (Elm)
Having obtained permission, Maki opened the room on the right without hesitation and peeked inside.
“It is the same shape as the room with the barrier, huh. Could it be that Mizu-san’s room is also…” (Maki)
“Yes. I can’t show it to you, but all the rooms on this floor have the same arrangement.” (Elm)
Maki nodded after hearing this, and wrote something new to her notepad.
We apparently can’t enter the barrier room, so we thanked Elm-san and left the 3rd floor.
It is a 3 story manor, so that means we have checked out almost all the places.
On the way to the 1st floor, Ina spoke to me.
“That maid-san is really clumsy, but she at least doesn’t feel like the culprit.” (Ina)
“Who knows. Can’t say anything.” (Souma)
“Ah, refusing to answer is unfair!” (Ina)
Looks like she tried to get info from me who knows about the culprit.
How conceited even though she is Ina.
I decided to retaliate a bit here.
“But ignoring all that, shouldn’t you be careful of her?” (Souma)
“Eh? Why?” (Ina)
“Cause you know…her character traits overlap with yours.” (Souma)
The moment I said this, Ina’s face turned bright red and she shouted.
“I-I am not clumsy to that degree!!” (Ina)
And then, after a brief pause, the sound of something dropping rang.
Looking at the direction where the sound was made, the vase that Mitsuki was praising before had fallen and broken into pieces most likely because it got hit by Ina’s hand.
Ina turned pale white.
That’s when the useless maid noticed the incident and approached.
After seeing the situation, she instantly went…
She gave something to Ina with a big smile that doesn’t match the situation.
What was given to Ina was a tube shaped container that doesn’t match a medieval fantasy.
What’s written there is ‘Super Glue’.
After leaving Ina at the fearsome 3d puzzle, we returned to the living room.
There were no residents in the living room anymore, and we decided to disperse there.
“I will go question the residents of this house!” (Maki)
Maki said this and was the first one to leave.
“Then, I will also check out the place a bit. I want to crush the possibility of an outsider being the perpetrator.” (Mitsuki)
Mitsuki said this and left the room.
“Fuh, the saga of the dark side adventurer is inviting me to an endless quest.” (Sazan)
Sazan was excited about being in a new place and wanted to resume the exploration of the house, so he left at once.
“T-Then, I will also return to my work! Ehehe, actually, I thought of a way to use wind magic to finish my cleaning without much effort!” (Rirumu)
The useless maid left with a statement that I could only see death flags for the tableware.
And so, in this room, there’s now only me and…
Ringo who is for some reason observing me from the shadow of a pillar.
Is she playing something here?
I was thinking about leaving her be if she was having fun here, but…
Just getting stared at without saying anything is extremely uncomfortable.
When I spoke to Ringo, she visibly flinched and hid her face behind the pillar.
“No, I can still see you. Or more like, I noticed you from the very beginning.” (Souma)
When I said this, she poked her head out.
“Don’t stay there and come here. This sofa is comfy, you know.” (Souma)
Ringo shook her head even when I said this.
“…I-I am currently keeping in check.” (Ringo)
She was pretty stubborn.
“If you are doing that, you can do so by my side. Doing it from there makes me uncomfortable instead. Come on.” (Souma)
Saying this, I slapped the side of the sofa, and she came out as if she had given up.
She hesitantly sat by my side.
“Why are you so suspicious of me?” (Souma)
When I asked this, Ringo answered without looking me in the eye.
“…Cause Souma…was making an evil face just before.” (Ringo)
Was I making a face like that?
I don’t remember.
But if that’s the case, I have to fix this misunderstanding.
I moved to the front of Ringo, made direct eye-contact with her, and said clearly.
“No need to worry that much. I simply thought about wanting to make countermeasures for Leila. I am not thinking about anything else aside from that, and I am not thinking about causing trouble for the people of this house at all.” (Souma)
And at the end, I added ‘of course, I would also like to get the crest if I can though’, and Ringo relaxed her expression.
“…Hn. I will believe you.” (Ringo)
I finally sigh in relief at the words that were muttered out in a low volume.
The atmosphere softened in one go, and Ringo yawned with a low ‘fuwaah’.
Seeing this, I got a bit worried.
“Speaking of which, have you been feeling better since then? Any place you feel pain at again?” (Souma)
When I asked this, Ringo hesitated for a bit before saying…
“…I am okay right now.” (Ringo)
If she is saying ‘right now’, does it mean that there’s times when she is not okay?
I stared at her intently and she answered in a low volume while wriggling her body as if finding it ticklish.
“…It is just that…I can’t sleep.” (Ringo)
“Insomnia? Then that means you really are not feeling—” (Souma)
Ringo shook her head lightly and denied it before I could finish.
And then, after hesitating for a longer time than before…
“…I have dreams of Souma leaving.” (Ringo)
She answered in a really really low voice.
I was a bit shocked by what she said.
I can only think of one reason for this.
It must be about me leaving to the real world.
At that time, Ringo said she would support us in returning to our world.
But maybe Ringo actually doesn’t want me to return.
“…I feel as if you will disappear the moment you leave my sight.” (Ringo)
“That’s why you were keeping an eye on me today?” (Souma)
She nodded lightly at my words.
Ringo even said that while facing down.
“No, it isn’t something you have to apologize for…” (Souma)
There’s nothing Ringo has to apologize for.
The one who should apologize is me.
But thinking about Maki, I can’t say I won’t return to my world.
In that case, I decided to at least hold Ringo’s hand.
Ringo raised her head in surprise, and I tried to convey as much of my feelings as possible.
“I am sorry for not noticing your worries, Ringo. But I won’t be going anywhere right now, so…so that’s why, uuuh…it is okay to go to sleep without any worries.” (Souma)
I stuttered as I said this, and understanding slowly spread onto the face of Ringo.
She timidly tried to lean her head on my shoulder.
She looked at me as if saying ‘is it okay?’ and I nodded silently.
And then, she leaned on me as if relieved from the bottom of her heart.
The moment I felt warmth on my right shoulder, I soon heard her peaceful breathing.
She must have been really tired.
“…I really am sorry, Ringo.” (Souma)
I say this as I gently brush the hair that was on her face away, and pet her.
A mumble leaked out in her sleep.
“Souma, don’t leave…” (Ringo)
I felt as if my chest was squeezed from those words.
“I…won’t go.” (Souma)
I responded to her as gently as possible and held her hand tightly.
It seems like I ended up falling asleep at some point in time too.
When I woke up, something fell from the top of my lap and made a loud sound.
Ringo opened her eyes, surprised at that sound.
“Sorry. Did I wake you up?” (Souma)
“…No, it is okay.” (Ringo)
I apologize once more to Ringo, who shook her head and was still sticking to me, and lifted my body.
I don’t remember having left anything on top of my lap, so I leaned over to pick up what was dropped while thinking this in wonder, and…
“This is…” (Souma)
After seeing what fell on the ground, I woke up completely.
What had fallen onto the fancy carpet was the one and only gem that released ominous light.
“…The Eye of the Heavens, huh.” (Souma)
This thing that Sazan should have thrown away somewhere had jumped all the way here that should be a different dimension.
I slowly picked up the Eye of the Heavens and put it inside the adventurer bag.
If this has shown up, it means that it has already been 6 hours since then.
It is about time…
“Ooh, so you were here!” (Shizun)
Shizun-san called me from the upper floor as if endorsing my thoughts.
“It will soon be 6 o’clock. Let’s go to the barrier room.” (Shizun)
We looked at each other’s faces and nodded, and then stood up with our hands still held.
With this, the stage has been set.
The artifice-filled Aken residence case finally begins!