After the theft of the ring was made clear, Shizun-san and the 4 siblings confirmed whether the functions of the barrier were broken, but it was clarified that the barrier is working normally.
The ring must have been stolen with some trickery -Shizun-san and the others arrived at this conclusion, and went back to the living room with heavy dejected faces.
The atmosphere from there on was extremely bad.
Exhaustion and regret, doubts and anger mixed, and everyone was making dangerous eyes.
And for some reason, the eyes Elm-san directed at me became even more dangerous.
No, it is not a mystery why it is.
At the time when I confirmed the not yet writing in the room, Elm-san also read the direction of my gaze.
Elm-san brushed the square tile I was looking at and had the writing edged there, and muttered…
“…The marking here is gone.” (Elm)
Remembering the eyes of Elm-san at that time still sends shivers down my spine.
Those are the eyes of someone who sees you as an enemy.
I understand his point of view here.
I marked the floor with the same feel as the game, but you normally wouldn’t think a mark you leave on the floor would disappear.
I foresaw this happening, so it can’t be helped if a 3rd person would think of my actions to be related to the crime.
However, there’s no way I would be able to tell him ‘this is a game world’ like I did with my comrades, and so, it is impossible for me to explain the mark on the floor disappearing.
I have no choice but to clear the suspicions by catching the true culprit.
However, right now I’ve gotta sleep for the sake of that.
The opinion of Shizun-san about everyone going to sleep in this room where we can keep an eye on each other in this abnormal situation was naturally accepted by everyone.
Looking around, I could see that my party members were also splitting up and going to sleep here and there in the room.
Ina must have been tired, she was fast asleep while hugging Fuu.
The only ones not in a stance to sleep were Mitsuki and Elm-san who took the guard duty.
I fell into the world of dreams while feeling the endless piercing gaze of Elm-san.
“Good morning, Souma-sama.”
The moment I opened my eyes, I had the horrible experience of waking up to the face of an old man with bags under his eyes which blew away my drowsiness.
Just how long has Elm-san been on standby in that position for?
Just imagining that was giving me a bad experience for my heart in two different meanings, but let’s just take it as a good wake-up alarm.
Anyways, it is true that I managed to wake up in one go with this.
I tried to lift up my body, but I noticed that my body felt strangely heavy.
“R-Ringo?! Maki?!” (Souma)
Now that I look closely, Ringo was curled up on my chest, and Maki was at my back as if riding on it.
And for some reason, Sazan had also come close and had fallen asleep while seemingly clinging onto my leg.
To think he would pull my leg even in his sleep. That’s Sazan for ya.
“Everyone must have been uneasy. They gathered after you fell asleep and ended up like this.”
Noticing that I had woken up, the only one of our party members, Mitsuki, came and explained to me.
“I see…” (Souma)
I understand them being uneasy in this situation.
In that case, I can’t really blame them -I thought this and smiled wryly.
“Hm? Then where’s Ina?” (Souma)
I suddenly noticed this and asked, and Mitsuki silently pointed at a certain location.
At that place, there’s Ina hugging Fuu on the sofa and sleeping happily.
Everyone woke up not long after, but the rough part came after.
Everyone was in a bad mood because of the lack of sleep, and the search for the culprit began as if it were a witch trial.
In this situation where Fai and Mizu were insulting each other, Earth shouted, and Fuu was all nervous. The one who calmed this situation down was an unexpected individual.
In this noisy room filled with malice…
“Ingredients!! There’s no ingredients!!”
The loud voice of the useless maid drowned everyone else’s voices, stopping everything.
The useless maid’s legs trembled, having gathered the attention of everyone, but she somehow managed to hang in there.
“It is important to find the culprit, but if we don’t buy food, I think everyone is going to die!!” (Rirumu)
Fai and Mizu lowered their heads at this logic they couldn’t argue against.
“I-I call for a temporary truce due to the necessity of food!!” (Rirumu)
And so, the unsightly strife between blood relatives was stopped temporarily.
After that, Mizu said ‘I have something I have to do today, and it has to be outside’ which almost made the place rowdy, but Shizun-san said ‘the ones who want to go outside will require a strict check of possessions’ which calmed down the situation.
You have to use that teleport device in order to go outside.
If you can confirm that the ones going outside don’t have the ring, the ring will at least not be taken outside -that’s the logic.
Everyone knows that plan is just a stopgap for the situation, but there were no better ideas.
Even Fai, who was stubborn till the end, accepted the momentary solution of body checks when going outside.
Only girls are going outside this time around, so the ones doing the body checks are Mitsuki, Maki, and Fuu.
“Properly check the inside of the clothes as well to see if there’s no suspicious places, okay?” (Fai)
Being told this by Fai, a thorough check was done in a different room…apparently.
At the very least, when they came out of the room…
“Uuuh, I can’t be a bride anymore.” (Rirumu)
The useless maid said this.
“I-If this is enough to clear my name, it is cheap.” (Mizu)
And seeing Mizu acting tough here, I can imagine they were actually pretty thorough.
On top of that, in order to make sure the culprit was not given the ring after the check by an accomplice, they even made sure not to make contact with anyone else.
They were guided all the way to the stone circle where the teleport device is as if they were prisoners being escorted.
Shizun-san activated the device, making the teleport device be usable temporarily, and…
“Now then, I will be heading off.” (Mizu)
Mizu was the first one to teleport outside.
“I-I will buy a whole ton of food!” (Rirumu)
And the useless maid also disappeared after saying this.
I then peeked at the faces of the remaining people.
The first one I made eye-contact with was the butler-san who was observing me with a glare within his gentle countenance, but let’s just say I didn’t see that one.
First of all, there’s Shizun-san and Fai who seemed to be somewhat despondent.
It seems like they are wondering if this method really was okay or if there was any point in this method, and a variety of other things.
On the other hand, Maki and Mitsuki were proactively talking about the incident, and turning their gears, going ‘it wouldn’t work like this or like that’ but it doesn’t seem like they are close to reaching an answer.
I wanted Maki to reach the answer if possible, but time is up.
I purposely took a step to gather the attention of everyone, and said this in an exaggerated manner.
“Now then, we should also head out!” (Souma)
Fai bit onto those inconsiderate words of mine.
“What are you saying all of a sudden?! Sorry to say this, but now that it has come this far, you guys are also suspects! We will have you take the body check properly too.” (Fai)
In response to that violent tone of his…
“What’s with that?! Tyranny!! I refuse!” (Sazan)
I stopped Sazan, who objected angrily, with my hand.
“No, there’s no need to. I already know where the ring is.” (Souma)
I say this straight.
“Wa?! What are you sa—” (Shizun)
I stood in front of the confused Shizun-san and asked instead.
“Shizun-san, you can use fire, water, earth, and wind spells, right?” (Souma)
“T-That’s right, but the ring is currently—” (Shizun)
“Then, can you use this spell too?” (Souma)
I cut off the words of Shizun-san and said the name of a certain spell.
“Y-Yeah, I can…” (Shizun)
“Please try using it. It will make everything clear.” (Souma)
Shizun-san had his eyes opened wide at how self-centered I was here, but seeing that I wasn’t saying anything more, he finally gave up.
He chanted the spell with a face as if in half-doubt.
“Could this possibly be…!!” (Shizun)
Shizun-san’s expression changed and then nodded to my proposal. And so, we moved out of the residence.
Once we were out of the residence, we had Shizun-san cast a stealth spell, and followed after ‘her’ who left beforehand.
The ones following ‘her’ are the 12 that were in the residence.
I of course had Mitsuki find the one other person aside from her, and we are now moving together to follow her.
All the people following have serious faces, but sweat was flowing from my hand as well even when I know everything.
This case will reach its finale soon.
However, I can’t relax here.
There’s the possibility of failure until she picks that up.
I endured my unease and followed her.
We silently advanced, and change happened in her unhesitant steps.
She was moving as reported until now, but she suddenly changed directions.
She left the route and began moving in an unpopulated area.
Seeing this, the people of the residence made faces as if saying ‘could it be…’.
From my way of saying it, I thought there would be no doubt that she is the true culprit, but it seems like they really found it hard to believe.
But, as if betraying them, she moved to the front with unsteady steps, and ran to where a single man was waiting at.
The person waiting for her was a chubby merchant.
Being in front of him, she said with a trembling voice.
“I-I have brought it as promised!! With this, you will pay for the treatment of those children, right?”
The merchant made a creepy ‘gehgeh’ and his flabby chin shook.
“Of course, of course, with this, I will pay for the treatment of those slum brats…I mean, children. Now, enough about that. Quick, the ring…”
It was a really easy to understand exchange.
This should have made it clear to everyone.
Now we just have to wait for the decisive moment.
“U-Understood. I-It is a promise, okay?!”
And then, that moment came.
She put her hand to the front…and chanted that spell.
A pocket space appeared in front of her.
She put her hand inside that without hesitation and took out a jet black ring, the Immortal Oath.
I heard the sound of someone gulping.
I also was waiting with bated breath.
I was pretty nervous here, but it should be okay now.
This is the long awaited deduction display of Maki.
Just when she was about to give the ring to the man, I slowly stood up.
“That’s as far as you go!!” (Souma)
I shouted loudly and left the range of the stealth spell.
Shizun-san and the others undid their stealth magic too and gathered behind me.
“S-Souma-san! And everyone else too… W-Why?”
I ignored her confused self and slowly raised a finger.
“The culprit calling herself the phantom thief, Night Wind, and stole the family heirloom of the Aken household…” (Souma)
And then, I pointed that finger straight at her and shouted.
“The maid of the Aken household, Rirumu!! It was you!!” (Souma)