I bring Nora to the garden and tell her about what’s happening in Taizu and the world, and most of the information that I know.
About how Gold who is close to me is a Demon Lord, and also that Ekdoik has become a demon.
I also told her about the interaction with the Colorless Demon Lord at the end, but Nora was listening with her head still down.
I actually should have told her to a certain degree after I heard about the situation, but…I don’t feel like showing consideration for someone when I am in my me state.
“Well, that’s basically how it is. It is true that you were wrong in not listening to what Ruko said, but we adults were also at fault for not properly explaining something dangerous and hiding it. Sorry.”
“But there would have been no problems if I had listened to what Ruko-sama said-no da.” (Nora)
“That would have been an issue that I could have solved by properly explaining the list of the forbidden to you so that you don’t carelessly research it.”
“That’s a sly way of putting it-na no da.” (Nora)
“Yeah, all adults learn how to put things in a sly manner. Especially me. Don’t even think you can win against me in an argument.”
Ilias at the back had a face as if saying ‘what’s the point of bragging about that?’, but ignore her, ignore her.
“Nii-chan, has Ruko-sama woken up already-no da?” (Nora)
“She apparently did from what I have heard, but I have left the right man for the job on that front. What I can do is get yelled at by Ruko later. Let’s get yelled at together, okay?”
“…I now somewhat understand what you mean by understanding just half, Nii-chan.” (Nora)
The reason why the Great Sage Barastos sent Nora to Taizu instead of them coming when they accepted the magic research request.
Nora said it was for the sake of training her magic and I told her she was half right.
“Understanding by feeling is pretty good in itself, but since we have the opportunity here, how about putting it in words. It is pretty hard to do that, you know?”
“Uhm…it is important to do your best in order to complete something-na no da. But you have to think about what happens after you complete it as well-na no da. Nora may have the power to research things, but doesn’t have enough power to see ahead of it-no da. That’s why there’s no doubt Master wanted me to learn from the people of Taizu who are researching new magic for the sake of the future-no da.” (Nora)
“It is true that your Master might have been seeking that answer, but the answer is simpler than that. They must have wanted you to be aware that you are still a child and to rely more on adults.”
“…I don’t really like being treated as a child-no da.” (Nora)
“Makes sense. Your talent in magic surpasses that of even adults. But that’s not it. Would you laugh at Ruko for her questionable talent in magic?”
“…No way-no da. Ruko-sama is far far more amazing than Nora-no da.” (Nora)
“Yeah, Ruko is impressive. Her strength doesn’t come from having trained, but from living as a person. It is a privilege adults have.”
“Nii-chan is also amazing?” (Nora)
“Who knows. I don’t know if I could call myself courageous like Ruko. But well…I do think I have my amazing points elsewhere, you know?”
“You scurried away from it-no da.” (Nora)
“It is not only your talent in magic. You will be growing in a lot of things from here on. That’s why you are full of things that you are missing. Relying on others for the sake of compensating for those lacking points isn’t bad. If you don’t learn that while you are still a child, you will suffer when you are an adult, you know?”
She is not limited to just her Great Sage and disciple relationship.
Her way of carrying herself when she is an adult will change greatly depending on how she leads her childhood.
Barastos couldn’t pamper Nora as a Great Sage and Master, so this must have been a worry for them.
They must have thought that the Wise King Marito wouldn’t be a bad person to send a child to.
“By grow, do you mean stuff like my boobies-na no da?” (Nora)
“It would be hard to compensate for that. There’s adults that don’t have them either after all.”
“It was a joke-na no da. But I got it. I don’t really get it well, but I feel like I get what I need to understand-no da.” (Nora)
“Right. You are doing great with that much.”
I pet the head of Nora.
If I were to be asked whether I would be able to understand this in my childhood, my answer would be no.
I have been told children should rely on adults, but I haven’t asked the details about it.
It really is fine to notice such difficult things when you are an adult.
But a child would want to go against it if they are forced to do this without a reason.
Being able to compromise here is an important job of adults.
“…Nii-chan, do you still have more Itoela Butterfly larvae-no da?” (Nora)
“Yeah, I do. Here.”
I took out the ones that remained in my pocket.
By the way, Marito told me something terrible just before like: ‘Now that I think about it calmly, I don’t know about putting larvaes in your pocket’.
Well, I think so, too. I should air them in the sun and put them away.
“I did think you would do that. It is a decently rare medicine, so if you chew it, you gotta pay back, okay?”
I try not to look as much as possible as I grab the remaining larvae that were in the hand of the agonizing Nora, wrap them in cloth, and return them to my pocket.
I have Kutou bring out another canteen and give it to Nora.
“It is water with a high honey percentage. Wash your mouth with this for now.”
Nora grabbed the canteen, put it in her mouth, and spit it out at a nearby flower bed.
It seems like she was saved by the fact that she didn’t have an appetite and skipped her meal. Not like that’s a good thing though.
Nora came back here while tears were gushing out from her eyes.
“Uuuh, it is b-bitter-no da…” (Nora)
“Even the Colorless Demon Lord vomited after all. Drink more.”
“…I am fine-no da.” (Nora)
“It is bitter enough to bring you to tears. Don’t push yourself.”
“It is okay-no da. I have to remember this bitterness. Ruko-sama experienced something even more bitter-no da.” (Nora)
There’s no need to worry about Nora anymore.
There’s rarely any girl as strong as her. It will be hard for her mindset to change. I doubt she will be stepping on the wrong path as she is.
“…Good grief, be more childish. Even if you were to eat today, you would just be vomiting it, so I will treat you to some good food tomorrow.”
Ruko has already woken up and has been told the developments from yesterday from the person that was on standby by her side.
I knocked on the door of the room, but there’s no response.
There’s a presence inside, but there’s no signs of them moving.
I open the door and enter Ruko’s room.
There’s several small potted plants in Ruko’s room.
They are all plants with some peculiar trait to them, and there’s even some which I have tried to challenge raising before but ended up dying.
…No, let’s leave that aside for now.
Ruko raised her body from the bed in her pajamas, but her knees were bent and she was burying her head deeply in them.
I walked towards her and it seemed like she finally noticed my presence, she directed her gaze at me.
“Y-Your Majesty?! W-Why?!” (Ruko)
“I came here to check your state, but…there was no response even when I knocked on the door. Sorry for the lack of manners.” (Marito)
“N-No, I should be the one to say that with this attire of mine—” (Ruko)
“That’s the correct attire to have. If there’s any person who would force someone who has to rest in bed to wear maid clothes, I would get angry.” (Marito)
“R-Right, that’s true…” (Ruko)
It is the usual Ruko as far as the conversation has gone.
But considering her state when I entered the room, the burden in her mind and body is unquestionable.
“How’s your body feeling?” (Marito)
“Uhm…I think it is fine… Uuh, Your Majesty…things ended up like this despite the custody of Nora-chan being left to me… I am truly sorry that I couldn’t meet expecta—” (Ruko)
I pull the head of Ruko and gently hug her into my chest.
I was sure Ruko would say something like that, but I didn’t want her to say anything more than that.
“Ruko, don’t apologize for anything. You faced the Demon Lord that’s stronger than any knight and had fearsome strength, yet didn’t take one step back. I can’t let you apologize when you showed the most courage out of anyone.” (Marito)
“But if I had stopped him, such a young girl wouldn’t have…” (Ruko)
“That goes for you too. You were exposed to unbearable fear. Even so, you still fulfilled your duty. Don’t shoulder any fault right now; I will shoulder it all. That’s why, just let all of those fears out for now.” (Marito)
Ruko trembled and cried in my chest.
Ruko has not had combat training at all.
She has pledged her loyalty to Taizu, but her heart is frail compared to those who have been forged in that path.
She bravely faced that adversity while the fear of death was eating away at her heart.
But the price was incredibly big.
“Ruko, you will be remembering the fear of yesterday night from here on, imagining the fear of not knowing when you will die while being ravaged by nightmares. But I won’t allow that. I don’t plan on letting that be. I shall clear away all the threats etched in your heart. I will continue granting you happiness so that you are not haunted by nightmares. I will protect your future in the name of Marito Taizu.” (Marito)
Ruko must have cried herself into exhaustion after a while, she fell asleep.
I laid her down in the bed gently and brushed her forehead before leaving the room.
My friend and Lady Ratzel were there when I turned the corner.
“…Could it be that you were waiting the whole time here?” (Marito)
“Kinda. I had trouble calculating how long it would take you to console her, so it was hard to approach the room. Thus, here we are, killing time.”
“Killing time, huh.” (Marito)
Inside the crossed legs of Lady Ratzel who was making an awkward face, there’s entertainment games that knights would play while drinking as they gamble.
They are simple games that prioritize psychological battles instead of smarts. Looks like my friend is crushing it here.
Well, gambling is impossible for Lady Ratzel after all.
“That was faster than I thought.”
“She must have still been exhausted. She fell asleep like a log after crying her eyes out.” (Marito)
“As for Nora, she will be groaning the whole day, but there’s no issue.”
“Groan? What did you do?” (Marito)
“Nora bit on the larvae.”
The resolve of children is way too reckless. I can’t scold her too harshly with this.
Maybe I should experience it once to reflect in the future. My friend did it too, and it is important to share experiences.
“By the way, I didn’t force her to, okay?”
“I feel like it is something you would pull at the times when you are merciless though.” (Marito)
“Depends on the person. There was no need for Nora.”
“I pity the ones who you will need to.” (Marito)
“Please call Ruko once she has calmed down. I would like to talk about what we will be doing from here on.”
“Got it… But what do you plan on doing?” (Marito)
“Depending on the situation, get kicked. Nora will continue doing her best, but Ruko…well, I will talk about that stuff in detail later on.”
Considering the personality of Ruko, she will ask to stay, but that will put a burden on her.
But forcefully pushing her away could also end up taking away from her.
I am sure my friend wouldn’t mistake which one to choose in those scenarios.
“I promised to protect her future. Please do your best, okay?” (Marito)
“What, you proposed to her?”
“I didn’t go that fa—” (Marito)
Hm? But I feel like it wouldn’t be strange for it to sound like that.
That said, with the personality of Ruko, I can see her going ‘nah, there’s no way’ and deny it though.
“What’s the matter?”
“I just began thinking that it might not be a bad idea to close the distance like this.” (Marito)
“Taking advantage of the situation; how impure.”
“I was already aiming to do that before all of this happened, so it should be fine, right? As long as Ruko doesn’t have the intention to approach herself, I have to do the approaching.” (Marito)
“You are the type that likes to enjoy the process after all.”
He really does poke where it hurts. Could it be that he has used that technique of his on me too?
Well, that would make me happy in its own way though.
“If you are going to be leaving now, how about a bit of a night drink with me?” (Marito)
“There’s still bitterness left in my mouth, so I am gonna go to sleep for today.”
“That’s a shame. Are you going to return to your information gathering in Shunait tomorrow?” (Marito)
“Yeah, things are progressing without issues on that front.”
I would like to say that’s as expected, but Lady Ratzel is looking at him with blank eyes, so it makes him look miserable at a glance.
Considering past accounts, he is most likely repeating miscellaneous work and slowly gaining trust.
Despite all that, my friend is always setting up a strategy somewhere. Let’s just wait in anticipation.
“I will wait for the good news… And so, how much did you swindle from Lady Ratzel?” (Marito)
“I have secured the meal expenses to Dog’s Bone until next week.”
“Keep the squeezing of gold from the straightlaced knights weak to gambling to a moderate degree, okay?” (Marito)
“The meals you eat with the money of someone else have a different spice to them, you know?”
“I am curious about that. Maybe I should try challenging Lord Ragudo to one game.” (Marito)
“Oh, confiscating by force, huh.”
What a terrible way of putting it.
Most of the jobs the guild members of Riodo undertake involve battling.
On the surface, they are things like working as mercenaries, bodyguards, and securing rare materials from dangerous zones.
In the shadows, it is information gathering and extraction, and there’s times when even assassination requests come in.
Of course, if you request a crime, you will be taking the risk of Riodo holding that fact in their hands.
Riodo serves as the middleman and only tells the details of the request to the adventurer as they progress matters in secret.
They have accumulated a large amount of gold in intermediary fees.
The requester showing their face and negotiating like in the case of Raheight are rare.
He changed his body, but his presence stood out from that one point already.
That must be why it was relatively easy for Girista to learn about the information of adventurers that have had direct contact with him.
Right now we are trying to draw out information from the adventurers that are in the list of Girista; the people that are suspected of having made contact with him.
The list has the name of the adventurers, their features, and the location and day they made contact.
“This one is a dud too.”
I checked the people that had direct contact to him by using magic, but they were simply controlled, so there’s no way there would be information left.
Even though we finally found the location, it is harsh that the chances of ending in pointless effort are so terribly high.
No hits in terms of the adventurers. There certainly were people who met him directly, but it was just confirming the price of each respective adventurer.
From within 10 of them, I used magic in a slightly violent manner on 4 of them to check them thoroughly, but I didn’t get any information.
Wolfe showed up with grocery bags while I was preparing to tinker with his memories; basically, the preparations to free them.
“Wolfe is back!” (Wolfe)
“Sorry for leaving the shopping to you. I have also finished up here. Let’s eat.” (Ekdoik)
“Okay! By the way, how was it on your side, Ekdoik-san?” (Wolfe)
“No good. It felt off, but there wasn’t a single piece of concrete information.” (Ekdoik)
“Felt off?” (Wolfe)
“Yeah, the ones that made contact with them were consulting with them about the level of requests they would be able to accept. The way they spoke in all of them was the same. It should be safe to assume it was Raheight possessing that body and standing as a client.” (Ekdoik)
That’s right. Even if his body has changed, the inside is still the same.
That’s why the way they speak and the impression they give off was similar.
I have also negotiated with Raheight before. That’s why there were things I could feel.
But there’s no other valuable information.
“Greeted and said bye?” (Wolfe)
“Yeah, at the very least, I can’t see any influence of magic from the adventurers in this list.” (Ekdoik)
“But Shishou said this list is important.” (Wolfe)
“He did. He just said: ‘Please investigate with this list as the starting point’.” (Ekdoik)
But Comrade didn’t say in what way it was important.
It is not just that he is being stubborn here. There’s most likely a meaning to this.
However, if this also holds the meaning of ‘try doing something by your own power for the sake of your future’, sorry, but I am out of options here.
…It hurts that that might be possible.
“I am back~.”
“Girista, welcome back!” (Wolfe)
“Oh my~! Being welcomed by a cute girl is so wonderful~!” (Girista)
Girista returned from her information gathering and hugged Wolfe who received her.
These two seem to be getting along well.
It is not bad aside from the fact that Girista would sometimes challenge her to a spar and would get instantly defeated.
“Girista, was there any new information?” (Ekdoik)
“Questionable~. There has been information of events that are similar to that of what’s shown in the list every now and then though~.” (Girista)
“In regards to that information, I have investigated the ones that contacted them and the adventurers, but there’s barely any clues.” (Ekdoik)
“Figures~. I have also tried attacking the adventurers that had made contact, but it didn’t work~.” (Girista)
“You didn’t kill them, right? You can be a battle junkie all you want, but if you are moving under the orders of Comrade, show restraint.” (Ekdoik)
“It is okay~. It won’t develop into a deathmatch unless they are at your level~.” (Girista)
What’s so dangerous about this woman is that she doesn’t state clearly that she won’t kill.
Asking the adventurers their work fee is not that rare. There’s also cases where merchants would try to negotiate their fees after all.
But the story is different with adventurers with no repute.
They don’t know about the other party, so they would be wary. It is normally something you would consult about after you have known them to a certain degree.
That wouldn’t be the case if it is a famous adventurer, but there aren’t that many famous ones within the list.
In the first place, trying to hire an adventurer without going through the guild would sour your reputation in the guild, and there’s the risk of them keeping tabs on you.
There might not be any meaning here.
Raheight might have just done this in order to spread the information that he has made contact with others, which would invite confusion. Just that alone is already effective enough.
But it is hard to believe this is just a fake-out after seeing that interrogation.
“Ekdoik~, I will be adding some names to the list, so can you lend it to me~?” (Girista)
“Here, please do.” (Ekdoik)
“Let’s see. The names of the adventurers that were contacted…and the information of the one who made contact was someone with the hairstyle of a chicken…” (Girista)
“What kind of hairstyle is that?” (Wolfe)
“Oi oi, you were the one who asked—wait. How did you make this list?” (Ekdoik)
“How, you ask… I just asked around normally, you know~? Stuff like people who normally don’t get involved with adventurers speaking to adventurers~.” (Girista)
“…I see, so that’s what it was.” (Ekdoik)
We were conscious of the adventurers and the one that contacted them, but we mistook the place to put our attention on.
In the first place, it is strange for the same information to circulate this often.
“Let’s go, Girista.” (Ekdoik)
“Eeh, let’s eat first~.” (Girista)
“I am finally seeing signs of progress. In order to get back the time used until now—” (Ekdoik)
When I looked back, Wolfe was watching the ingredients she had taken out and lined up as if reluctant to part.
I told Wolfe to buy what she wanted. There must be her favorites in there too.
“…We are hurrying after we eat.” (Ekdoik)
“Aren’t you soft with Wolfe-chan~?” (Girista)
Don’t say that, Girista. I am aware of that, too.