I was so surprised that I choked on my words.
Just two syllables, and yet, I couldn’t say them properly.
How did Leila manage to find this house with her Eye of the Heavens gone?
No, even if she managed something with the location of the house, how did she manage to get inside this place that even drove away the Knight Order?
And most of all, how can Leila have a smile in this situation?
That smile that I could even feel madness in made me unable to move as if sewn onto the ground.
Leila ran to where I am, and she spoke with a shining smile.
“Loic, I was thinking about surprising you once you returned, so I cleaned the inside of the mansion! H-How is it? Pretty clean now, right?” (Leila)
I am impressed I could even voice out a word.
It is true that it does look as if it has been cleaned up pretty well now that I look around.
But having you enter our house arbitrarily and cleaning it up is just scary.
“A-Also! I prepared a meal! I don’t know what you like, so I might have made a bit too much!” (Leila)
“I-I see…” (Souma)
I take a step back at that vigor of hers that looked desperate.
But that was not good.
“D-Don’t run away!” (Leila)
Leila reacted oversensitive to that action of mine and grabbed my arm.
“W-Wait, Mitsuki!” (Souma)
I stopped Mitsuki with the last remaining of my composure when I saw Mitsuki grab her katana at the corner of my vision.
…I-It is still okay.
Leila is still not holding a knife in her left hand.
It should be alright.
I returned my gaze and Leila didn’t seem to even have my comrades in her peripheral and was desperately clinging to me.
That grip strength was abnormal, and it was to the point that my arm was screaming even when I should be higher leveled than Leila.
“You are still angry, right, Loic? I gave you a weird item like the Eye of the Heavens on my own volition. There’s no way you wouldn’t be angry.” (Leila)
“Eh, no, that’s…” (Souma)
It is obviously hard to tell her that I have already broken it.
Seeing me finding it hard to respond here, Leila’s expression got even more desperate.
“I-I am sorry! I am really sorry! But please…please forgive me. Don’t…Don’t abandon me…” (Leila)
She said this and continued crying while wrapping around my arm.
(W-What’s this…?) (Souma)
It has only been 1 minute since I opened the door and saw Leila with a big smile.
Leila seemed cheerful at first, but now there’s no shadow of it and is bawling her eyes off.
I don’t get this at all.
However, I am confident about something with this short exchange.
Leila’s unstable self is mostly to do with how intensely her emotions go up and down.
There’s no doubt about it.
She is definitely crazy!!
However, I haven’t seen Leila in this state when it was a game.
From what I know, this wasn’t posted on the net either, so it should be safe to assume this is a development that wasn’t in the game.
I don’t know what happened, but I doubt she is going to attack me anytime soon.
I was relieved for now and decided to listen to the situation once Leila calmed down.
Fortunately, when I told her that I have already broken the Eye of the Heavens and that I am not angry anymore, Leila recovered to a degree where she could speak.
“And so, why are you here, Leila…?” (Souma)
I stealthily moved away from my female comrades while asking this cautiously.
“Y-Yeah. I thought it would be bad to clean your room when you are not here, so I decided to clean the corridors…and here I am…” (Leila)
I am not talking about the cleaning -is what I was on the verge of shouting, but I somehow manage to endure.
“T-That’s not what I meant. Why did you come to this mansion?” (Souma)
When I asked this, Leila made a hurt expression for some reason.
I don’t get her.
“Cause you said that…I could come with you…” (Leila)
When she said this, I ended up remembering the question that Leila threw onto me before.
“T-Then…if I were to say I wanted to follow you, w-would it trouble you?”
Leila certainly did ask that at the deepest part of the ruins.
And I remember answering halfheartedly, thinking that it would be fine since I was disguised as Loic.
“If you pledge absolute loyalty, will always prioritize me no matter the time, and never hurt me no matter what, I don’t mind.”
I feel a bit embarrassed just remembering about it.
At that time…yeah, I was trying to act like the handsome character that suits the appearance of Loic, and got a bit out of control there.
“No, wait, how did you know I live here…?” (Souma)
“Ah, with this…” (Leila)
Leila pushed a drawing onto me.
“A portrait of me?” (Souma)
It is a shoulder-length portrait that resembles a wanted poster, but the realistic touch to it is really good.
However, it has been beautified by around 150% more than the real thing, and it is practically a different person already.
Also, the side of my face is the only part that looks manga-like, written in a speech bubble ‘I will protect Leila!!’.
This drawing is so chuunibyou that it could even create a new nickname for me if someone were to see it.
“When I showed this to the people when I was looking for you, they said ‘Isn’t that the Sinking Prince Souma-sama?’ and told me about this house…
The name was different, so I wasn’t sure, but once I actually came here, it smelled of Loic, so…” (Leila)
“Smell, you say… Ah, wait wait! How did you enter?!” (Souma)
When I asked this aggressively, Leila made a shocked expression.
“Eh? Just like in the ruins…I entered from the front…” (Leila)
“That’s not normal at all I’ll have you know!” (Souma)
I shouted, unable to endure it anymore, and held my head.
Speaking of which, she is supposedly a scholar (treasure hunter).
Thinking about her history, I doubt she had any decent human interaction with anyone aside from her father, so it wouldn’t be strange if she were to have warped common sense.
“W-Was it really troubling after all…?” (Leila)
Leila saw my reaction and spoke uneasily.
I honestly find it a big pain, but because of the circumstances, it is hard to treat her harshly here.
I was hesitating on my answer and…
I heard a low voice from the back and came back to my senses.
The reason Leila is here is a small detail in the end.
What’s more important is that I can have a peaceful conversation with Leila in this situation which I can’t help but find strange.
I poured all of my senses on the girl in front of me again and asked Leila who was looking up at me nervously.
“…Leila, are you okay?” (Souma)
“As long as you are with me, I will always be okay.” (Leila)
She said that with a straight face, but that’s not what I meant.
I steel myself and said with the resolve of stepping into the tiger’s den…no, the dragon’s den.
“That’s not what I meant. Would you really be fine even if I am together with other women?” (Souma)
Maybe Leila hasn’t used her ‘Death to the Infidel!!’ until now because she was so concentrated on me that she didn’t notice the other girls.
I said this while making sure I can move at any moment Leila acted, but she simply showed a slightly gloomy look.
“Y-Yeah. I was shocked that Loic was bringing around 5 women the whole time, but..b-but it is not something I can complain about…” (Leila)
Leila is being reasonable here!
I glanced at Sazan, who was being treated as a woman here, but…
This dude hasn’t noticed at all.
Well, it is better for him to not make a ruckus here, so I return my gaze to Leila.
“W-What’s the matter, Loic…?” (Leila)
I ignored the shaking voice of Leila and looked at the knife at her waist that clashes with her maid clothes.
That’s the fixed weapon of Leila.
The Unique Weapon, Death Bringer, which unleashes the [Death to the Infidel!!].
There are characters in Nekomimi Neko that have weapons you can’t take off or slots you can’t equip anything on, and Leila is one of those.
You are free to do anything with the right hand weapon, but you can’t equip anything on the left aside from the Death Bringer.
And then, when her jealousy gauge is maxed, she will take out the Death Bringer and attack you.
Death Bringer is a high stat weapon with instant death even in its raw form, so it is on the outstanding side as a fixed NPC weapon, but what’s the point if you get killed by it.
There were people who broke the Death Bringer so she wouldn’t use ‘Death to the Infidel!!’, but that was pointless.
Even if Death Bringer is broken before the activation, it will regenerate to practically a brand new state when she unsheathes it, so you get attacked in the end anyways.
I can’t really say ‘Is that so? Alright then’ and accept it.
(I really can’t relax just because she said so.) (Souma)
Thinking this, I decided to act out a bit in front of Leila.
“Ringo, come here a bit.” (Souma)
I seized Ringo, who had a face that wasn’t really thinking of anything, and wrapped my arm around her shoulder as lecherously as possible.
I internally apologize to Ringo who fidgeted restlessly here, and didn’t let my eyes off Leila even for a second.
I looked at her as if saying this is an everyday occurrence and asked Leila with a firm tone.
“E-Even if I were to f-flirt with someone in t-this way, you won’t think of killing me?” (Souma)
Leila’s left hand twitched for a moment…but that was all.
“T-There’s no way I would try to kill you, Loic. I promised to never hurt you, and also, you are the person I love…” (Leila)
She curled up as if hurt by this.
Tears flowed out from the eyes of Leila and a pool was being made on the floor.
“Ah, no, uhm…” (Souma)
I got flustered at this instead.
I am completely the bad guy here.
Mitsuki and Maki were also looking over here as if saying ‘this is not what you told us’.
I put a hand on the shoulder of Leila while super troubled here and said this.
“For now, let’s eat something.” (Souma)
After that, we got to the dining table, and had a late breakfast.
What was lined up on the table were things that were cooked by Leila with the ingredients in the refrigerator.
I don’t know if it is accurate to call it a refrigerator, but the temperature and quality of the things placed in there don’t change.
We managed to eat a piping hot meal as if it had been prepared just now.
“Muh, this is…!” (Mitsuki)
Leila was unexpectedly good at cooking, Mitsuki’s cat ears twitched and trembled to show her surprise.
Even in my eyes, this meal was no less fancy than the one in the Aken household.
When I asked about the ingredients…
“I-I used the things in the refrigerator without permission after all. What I used was Para Squid, Confu Chicken, Terror Tomato, and…” (Leila)
I was on the verge of spitting it out when she said this, but the food was truly really good and I didn’t get hit by any status ailments.
According to Leila, she has gotten skilled at cooking with dangerous ingredients like these ones in her long years of ruin explorations.
Because of this, Ina ended up like an empty husk from the sense of defeat, but it is pretty much the usual at this point, so she should be okay.
I apologized to Leila in the middle of the meal and told her that Loic was a fake name, but she didn’t go crazy.
“Souma… Souma. I think it is a nice name!” (Leila)
She simply answered with a smile.
I was dumbfounded by such a refreshing reaction.
And so, the meal continued in such a peaceful fashion and ended without anything happening.
I was on guard, ready at any moment Leila were to attack me in the middle of the meal, but she didn’t show a single sign of that.
(Can I really consider this safe?) (Souma)
The Leila here is clearly different from the one in the game.
I can only make assumptions as to what the reason for this is, but…
(Should I think that the compulsory effect of the game isn’t as strong when it comes to the personality of the person?) (Souma)
This world is a world that is based on the game, but the strength of those restrictions vary depending on what it is.
The strongest compulsory ones would be basic rules in the game like: ‘you will receive damage if you get hit by an offensive skill’ and ‘if your HP hits zero, you die’.
This is something that no one in this world can go against.
The next thing that I think has a strict restriction are incidents related to events.
Judging from the marriage event and the train mode, in the case set conditions like a specific situation and keywords are fulfilled, it tends to be replicated even if it is slightly deviated from reality.
You can change the results of the event itself through your actions, but I would say it has a strong compulsory factor to it.
The next one would be restrictions that have to do with some equipments and actions.
‘You can only use 2 rings’, ‘Ina can’t make comrades’, ‘Mitsuki can’t get close to the Demon Lord Castle’; these types of mental barriers do have a compulsory effect in this world.
However, they don’t work on someone treated as a player like me, and it can still be overturned by force of will to a certain degree.
And the one with the least compulsory effect would be the usual actions of characters and their personalities.
When I met Ina, she would have the loner trait that she didn’t have in the game; Mitsuki slowly became someone who can show consideration; which all diverges greatly from the game.
Maybe this applies to Leila too.
The way I got involved with Leila was slightly different from that in the game, and Leila herself is not a doll that follows a set pattern like an AI anymore, but a proper human that can listen to everything we say and understand it.
Or maybe her promise with me had a positive effect.
I don’t know in detail, but the result is that I can’t deny the possibility that a Leila who doesn’t kill me out of pure jealousy has been born.
While I was thinking about that all by myself…
“How about having her work in this house?” (Mitsuki)
Mitsuki suddenly stood up and said something weird again.
“What are you saying all of a sudden, Mitsuki?!” (Souma)
I protested in surprise, but Mitsuki responded with a calm face.
“I understand your fears. But I will also keep an eye on her, and if you are worried about her, it would be better to keep her somewhere you can see her, right? From what I have seen until now, her ability at cleaning is splendid, and well, I wouldn’t find it disagreeable for her to handle the meals.” (Mitsuki)
Mitsuki didn’t drop her poker face even until the very end, but when she was eating, I didn’t miss the fact that her cat ears were jumping all over the place.
(This woman was reeled in with food!) (Souma)
Is what I thought, but I swallowed the criticism.
It is true that the food was tasty, and it would be a great help to have someone who can cook the ingredients that are in the refrigerator of the mansion.
My other comrades seem to not have any objections probably because they saw Leila crying.
I myself would also feel bad about throwing her out like this.
It might be fine to just check for a limited time.
I nodded reluctantly.
“Now then, if you are okay with that, Lei—” (Souma)
“Yeah, I also ask this of you! Thank you, Mitsuki, Loi—no, Souma!!” (Leila)
There’s no way Leila, who doesn’t seem to want to part from me, would reject this, so we ended up hiring her as a maid of our home.
“Now then, I will guide you through the residence.” (Mitsuki)
“…Hn, me too.” (Ringo)
“Ah, I-I will be counting on you…” (Leila)
Saying this, Mitsuki and Ringo left the room with Leila.
“Good grief. Looks like that’s a wrap then. I will return to Alex and the others once and tell them of our return… Fuh, no need to worry. I will return here once I do.” (Sazan)
“Wu, I had forgotten, but I have to return to the castle. I went out without permission, so a search party might be dispatched soon.” (Maki)
I feel like I heard a whole ton of things I shouldn’t ignore as Sazan and Maki stood up from their seats and left.
Now all that’s left is me and the empty husk of Ina.
Being left alone in such a smooth manner makes me think that maybe they found it a pain to deal with Ina in this state and pushed it onto me.
While I was wondering what to say to the zoned out Ina, she showed me a weak smile.
“I-It is okay. My cooking was self-taught anyways. I really c-can’t win against a pro that has learned properly. I already knew.” (Ina)
She is not only not a pro but also a loner though. I swallowed those words.
“More importantly, isn’t it great? Leila-san seems like a good person…” (Ina)
Being able to say this without it sounding like sarcasm is one of the impressive parts of Ina.
I finally felt as if the danger to my life was getting further away and sighed heavily.
“It is actually good. I did have a last measure for it, but I didn’t want to use it.” (Souma)
“Last measure?” (Ina)
I smiled at Ina who latched on to those words, and I moved my hand to the adventurer bag.
“Yeah. It is a classic move you use for troublesome people -not only Leila- when it was a game. If nothing could be done, this—eh?” (Souma)
“What’s the matter?” (Ina)
Ina must have noticed the change in my expression, she asked me, worried.
However, I didn’t have the leeway to comfort her.
What should have definitely been in my bag is gone.
I desperately searched for it, but I really can’t find it.
“What is gone?” (Ina)
I answered dumbfounded at the question of Ina.
“…The Immortal Oath.” (Souma)
“The Immortal Oath I got from the Aken family is gone!” (Souma)
Even in that time, I searched half in panic, but I couldn’t find the jet black ring I definitely put in here.
“T-That’s terrible!” (Ina)
I didn’t even have the time to nod at the words of Ina. I was searching every inch of the bag, desperately seeking the Immortal Oath.
The result was that I now noticed something strange.
“Not only the Immortal Oath. A number of ingredients are gone too.” (Souma)
That’s right. It is impossible.
It is impossible for the things inside the bag to come out on their own.
But the items are actually gone.
(No, wait… Items came out…? That’s not the only possibility…) (Souma)
Once I touched upon that possibility, the rest was simple.
“No way!!” (Souma)
I think of a certain something that should be inside the bag…and pull my hand out.
The moment I took out my right hand, Ina raised her voice in surprise.
In my right hand, there’s a Bear plushie with its stomach swelled up and a black ring jammed tightly on its finger.
“So it really was you.” (Souma)
There’s no way the contents of the bag would just come out.
In that case, the items disappeared from inside the bag.
And so, the only one who can do that is the Bear who can move freely inside of it.
“You…are getting way too comfortable inside someone else’s bag…hm?” (Souma)
The Bear would normally react cutely and annoyingly to my words, but right now it is simply shaking and not moving at all.
This is strange.
Ina must have noticed something wrong here too, she began making noise.
“Souma-san, is Bear-san alright?!” (Ina)
“Is this…paralysis?!” (Souma)
It is as the name states, a status ailment that renders you unable to move for a set period of time.
It is a problematic state, but you in turn also recover fast from it, so it shouldn’t be dangerous, but the state of the Bear is clearly weird.
I don’t see the paralysis recovering anytime soon.
“T-This is bad! W-We have to get a doctor here quickly…!!” (Ina)
“No, we have to go to the church first!!” (Souma)
I held the Bear without waiting for Mitsuki and the others to return, and we hurried off from the mansion.
“…That was a shocker.”
I said this and poked the Bear.
The Bear must have reflected on itself there, it hit its head and went ‘teehee’.
…It might not have reflected on its actions after all.
The paralysis really was the issue here.
Staying for so long was clearly because of the Immortal Oath, so after I got the ring off at the church, the Bear recovered soon after without going to the medics.
The Bear can’t speak, so I can only imagine the reason, but the Bear probably put on the Immortal Oath while half-asleep inside the bag, and ate what it found inside the bag.
Well, my first question was ‘You can eat food?’, but it seems like it got paralysis after eating something.
In that case, it wouldn’t heal with the ring on, so even if it wanted to ask for help, it couldn’t come out.
“You were really in danger of dying there, you know? Do you get it?” (Souma)
I poked at the Bear that was holding onto my right shoulder like a koala.
This is just an example, but if you are afflicted with a status ailment that doesn’t let you move, petrification and stop can’t ail you at the same time as poison, but paralysis is different.
Not only can you not move because of the paralysis, it is a situation where your HP is shaved off due to poison. I have had that experience countless times in games.
The combo of poison and paralysis is intense in and of itself, and surviving from a paralysis and poison that can’t heal is despairing.
If there had been food that poisoned you inside there, there would have been a chance that the Bear would have died.
“Souma-san, please don’t blame the Bear-san too much. Bear-san must have been feeling lonely because you weren’t paying it attention.” (Ina)
I was taken aback by what Ina said.
It is true that the Bear has been inside the bag the whole time aside from showing its face a little bit in the Aken household.
I thought it was having fun since it is the Bear, but it might not have been the case.
No, even if it was so at first, I left it be even when it stayed inside the bag for a whole day.
I have taken out items from the bag countless times, so I had as many chances to think about the Bear, but I barely did.
Could it be that that’s why the Bear put on the ring and ate food on its own? To appeal its existence to me?
“Could it be that you…were sulking?” (Souma)
When I asked this, the Bear faced the other way while still holding onto my shoulder.
I chuckled at the rare easy to understand reaction of the Bear.
“I see. Sorry about that.” (Souma)
Despite appearances, the Bear is an irreplaceable comrade of ours.
When I lowered my head to apologize, the Bear used its round hand to pet my head.
And grinned at me.
I had gotten used to that smile at some point in time, and a smile showed in my face too.
I heard a strangely flustered voice from my left and something wrapped around my left arm.
When I looked there, Ina had wrapped her arms around mine and was hugging me.
“I-I am imitating B-Bear-san. E-Even I can do something as bold as this!” (Ina)
She said this with a bright red face.
And it seems like she couldn’t endure the silence.
“A-And so…how…is it?” (Ina)
She threw me a question I found hard to answer.
What’s the correct response here?
I answered in this fashion after thinking about it.
“I felt a really squishy sensation the moment we touched, and that surprised me.” (Souma)
“R-Really?! E-Ehehehe. I did feel like I was g-growing a bit lately!” (Ina)
Ina seemed to be in glee while getting all shy.
…Yeah, I am not lying.
It did feel squishy.
We were making a racket like that while returning to the mansion and…
I see Leila jumping out from the mansion.
Speaking of which, I left the mansion without telling anyone because it was an emergency.
Looks like I worried her.
“That’s a relief! You disappeared all of a sudden, so I thought again…” (Leila)
Leila stood in place in front of me, and after seeing us, she stopped moving.
I was suddenly assailed by a bad feeling and lowered my body.
For just a really paper thin difference, I miraculously managed to avoid the silver flash that passed by the place where I was at.
My body fell one breath later and Ina screamed.
I felt that from the corner of my vision and didn’t move my gaze away from the direction where the knife flew at.
What I was looking at dumbfounded while on the ground was…the Death Bringer and…
—Leila, who was making a face even more dumbstruck than me while holding it tightly.