I thought I nailed it in a cool manner like the great detectives in novels, but the finger that I pointed at the useless maid…
“…Souma, you shouldn’t point at people.” (Ringo)
Was forcefully lowered by Ringo who has been getting more common sense lately.
It does feel like my momentum was thinned with this, but the one I have to deal with right now isn’t the useless maid.
“…And, how long are you going to be standing there?” (Souma)
The one I pointed my sword at wasn’t the useless maid but the fat man at the back.
If I remember correctly, it is a merchant by the name of Karma.
His way of laughing is creepy, so he is often mistaken as a big villain, but the reality is that he isn’t good or evil, but a normal vice merchant.
“Gehgeh. B-Bye~!!” (Karma)
Karma must have judged that there’s no profit in staying here any longer, he turned his back to us without hesitation and ran away in a heartbeat.
“That bastard!!” (Fai)
Fai tried to chase after him in his rage, but I stopped him.
“Just ignore him. What’s more important here is…” (Souma)
When I moved my gaze to the useless maid, she flinched.
But she was still holding the ring and not trying to run away.
“I will have you return the Immortal Oath before hearing the details of this.” (Souma)
I think it will be alright, but it would be troubling if the useless maid were to do anything weird here.
I take the ring from the useless maid who seemed to have given up, and…
“I will return it.”
Just before I did, Elm-san snatched the ring from her hand.
Elm-san glared at me once, and then respectfully gave the ring to Shizun-san.
…No, isn’t this too much suspicion on me?
“This is…the real Immortal Oath. There’s no difference to the one inside the Magical Pocket.” (Shizun)
Shizun-san confirmed the ring and the useless maid made an ‘eh?’ face.
“D-Did you see when I was using Magical Pocket?!” (Rirumu)
She blurted that out in surprise, but it can’t be helped that she would misunderstand like that.
“…I see, so you didn’t know…about the defect of the Magical Pocket.” (Souma)
“D-Defect? What’s that about?!” (Rirumu)
I tell the harsh reality to the useless maid.
“This magic pocket is the most unsuitable place to put valuable things in.” (Souma)
Magical Pocket: a spell that creates a rift in space and makes it possible to store items in it.
When it was first discovered, it caught the attention of people as a technique that could assist the adventurer bag which has a capacity limit, but this spell has a massive landmine.
When you place the item inside the Magical Pocket, the item disappears as time passes.
People thought this was an unknown bug at first.
However, a player coincidentally witnessed an NPC use Magical Pocket and discovered an unbelievable reality.
The item that he had placed in the Magical Pocket not long ago was being taken out by that NPC.
After that, he hurriedly chanted Magical Pocket again, but the item was gone.
In other words, this item storage only has one communal space, and it is the same storage space for anyone using Magical Pocket.
It is basically a single item box used by everyone.
No wonder items would disappear one after the other like this.
This of course means that players can also steal the items NPCs place there, but NPCs don’t place items inside the Magical Pocket aside from events.
Even if it did happen, it would have the NPC ownership to it, so it would be treated as a stolen item even if you were to take it.
Fortunately, NPCs don’t use the Magical Pocket much, so it is rare to have things disappear, but there’s no need to go through the risk of having your things stolen.
Because of a certain quest, there’s the need to use this spell when you have no space.
And that moment is in this Aken Family’s Ring.
“If someone places an item in the Magical Pocket, anyone can freely take it out if they use Magical Pocket. By the moment you said you wanted to go do the groceries at the city, I predicted that you would hide the ring in the Magical Pocket.
That’s why I had Shizun-san chant Magical Pocket, and had him confirm that the ring was inside.” (Souma)
By the way, the worst case scenario was the possibility of a completely unrelated party taking away the ring in the time we were out of the Aken residence.
The reason why I still forced this place even with that possibility was because I wanted to catch the useless maid the very moment she took the ring out. Elm-san was keeping an eye on me the whole time, so there was also the safety that, even if the ring was gone, I wouldn’t be suspected.
With Elm-san, who has been watching me since morning till night, I can easily prove that I didn’t have the chance to use Magical Pocket.
Anyways, the ring didn’t disappear, so it was unnecessary worry.
That’s when Maki raised her voice in protest with notepad in hand.
“W-Wait! The most important part is not explained with that! Rirumu-chan can’t use barrier magic, and the only time she made contact with a person that can use barrier magic was when she switched with Mizu-san! Just how did she break through the barrier—” (Maki)
“That’s the misunderstanding.” (Souma)
I cut Maki off, and she made a dubious look.
“Rirumu perpetrated this crime alone, and this has nothing to do with barrier magic or elements to begin with.
Rirumu didn’t take one step inside the room when the theft happened after all.” (Souma)
“What do you mean by that…?” (Maki)
I speak as if lecturing the dumbfounded Maki.
“I thought I gave you enough hints, Maki. When we went to the room of Rirumu, you didn’t find anything weird? Didn’t you feel anything strange from the big dent on top of the table?” (Souma)
There were dents all over Rirumu’s room, but the square dent on the table at the center of the room stood out the most.
That’s weird when you think about it normally.
No matter how clumsy Rirumu is, it is unnatural to hit the table with something so big on top of the table.
Also, there was nothing that could create such a big square dent like that in her room.
“On top of the table? A-Aah, now that you mention it, that shape…” (Maki)
That’s where Maki raised her voice as if she thought of something.
I saw that and grinned.
“…Looks like you noticed. That dent has the same shape as the tiles of the barrier room. And Rirumu’s room is right below the barrier room. There’s one conclusion you can take from this.” (Souma)
I said this sharply after looking at the faces of everyone.
“Rirumu didn’t break the barrier!! By cutting the floor right below the barrier, she brought the pedestal that has the ring to her own room!!” (Souma)
This is the blind spot of this case.
It is true that the pedestal and barrier are indestructible objects just like Mitsuki confirmed, but the floor supporting it isn’t.
When it was a game, players couldn’t harm the floor and walls, so this is not really accurate, but you should be able to get it if you checked a certain place closely.
“Could it be…” (Maki)
Hearing this, the one whose knees fell on the ground was for some reason not the useless maid but Maki.
“The barrier had nothing to do with it…? Even though I took so many notes and thought about it a whole ton… Uuuh!!” (Maki)
It must have been pretty mortifying, Maki began to mutter complaints.
But she soon raised her head as if she had remembered something.
“B-But wait! Traces of it should have remained if the floor was dropped! And yet, when we went to the room, the floor was…” (Maki)
“Super glue.” (Souma)
I lifted a finger and explained to Maki who was making a silly face with her mouth open.
“In the first place, the crime happened when the shifts ended and she went to change after she had spilled tea on her clothes.
The fact that we saw the dent on the table when we went to her room before that means that this isn’t the first time that the ceiling fell. I actually investigated the ceiling after you two left, and there were traces of super glue having been used in a square shape.
That’s when I was certain the culprit would be Rirumu if the ring were to disappear.” (Souma)
“Eh, but mere super glue wouldn’t be able to…” (Maki)
Maki tried to refute me, unable to accept this, but she is unfortunately forgetting that this is the Nekomimi Neko world.
“The super glue that Rirumu used to repair the tableware can also repair walls. It obviously can also stick back fallen ceiling. Moreover, Rirumu is strong enough to pick up heavy decoration armor from the corridor all on her own.
It shouldn’t be difficult for her to carry the floor to the ceiling after putting glue on it.” (Souma)
Maki must have lost even the energy to refute me, she sat on the ground as if her soul had left her.
I do feel bad for her, but this is a situation where you will suffer if you place too much expectations on Nekomimi Neko.
That’s where Shizun-san stepped to the front as if taking after Maki.
And then, after hearing my deduction, he asked in a low tone towards Rirumu.
“Is what he said true, Rirumu? Are you really the phantom thief, Night Wind? The culprit that stole the Immortal Oath?” (Shizun)
Shizun-san asked half in doubt, and the useless maid simply answered with ‘I am sorry’.
“Why?! Why did you do something like this…?” (Mizu)
Mizu let out a grieving scream.
The useless maid directed blank eyes at her.
“…I visited the slums when we went out to do the groceries before. There, I saw a whole lot of the children I got along with before suffering from diseases… At that time, I met the merchant Karma-san…” (Rirumu)
“You were told that he would treat those children if I brought him the ring, right?” (Souma)
When I asked her this, the useless maid nodded honestly.
“I had no means to do anything about their illness, so I could only rely on someone else. Also…Also, I thought: ‘Right now the house is in so much of a mess, everyone at their throats; all because of this ring’.” (Rirumu)
Mizu was speechless at the face of Rirumu that was warped in deep sadness completely unlike her usual carefree look.
Seeing this, she shouted sharp words as if spitting out blood.
“If that ring is gone…! I am sure everyone could return to being a happy family!! It is because I thought this that I…!!” (Rirumu)
This scream that was like a confession but also a reprimand made the people of the Aken household groan and unable to say anything back.
An awkward silence took over the place.
I watched this state and sighed.
…The quest is over with this.
Finding the culprit, getting back the item, and exposing their trick.
I will be getting the reward from Shizun-san which is the shield crest and will be leaving the residence.
A single maid will be disappearing from that household after that, but that has nothing to do with me.
The quest is over.
Even when you ask Shizun-san out of curiosity after the quest…
“I am the head of the family” -he would say a completely unrelated thing from the incident.
But that can’t be helped.
A game is often like that.
If that’s the conclusion the developer readied, you have no choice but to accept it.
In other words, the case is wrapped up here.
The quest will finish safely, and you can welcome a happy end.
(As if that’s what I would think!!) (Souma)
I have always been unsatisfied with this.
Unsatisfied about the bad aftertaste of this incident and everyone involved in this case.
I have advanced the quest just like the game dictated until now.
But it should be fine now.
I will be writing the scenario of this quest from here on.
I steel my resolve and step forward.
I took a step onto the stage that I normally wouldn’t be able to step on.
“Don’t give me that shit.” (Souma)
My anger boiled up at the useless maid that’s playing the victim.
That’s why I can only call her a useless maid.
I roared with everything I had towards the groaning useless maid as if I were clearing away all of my grievances when it was a game.
“What you were thinking doesn’t matter! You are the worst kind of person to bite the hand that fed you just from the fact that you chose the worst choice of theft!!” (Souma)