The darkening sky and the dark grey clouds combined were making a humid air that clung to my skin and was increasing the gloominess.
Wincing at such a change from the fine weather of yesterday, I take a sip from the tea Erin made.
“…I hate rain.” (Makoto)
Looking outside the window, those words naturally leak out from me. Toto reacted to it from on top of my head and moves a bit.
A monster that only eats and sleeps is currently relaxing at the top of my head. It might have been a mistake to feed this guy. It really isn’t good to do things on the spur of the moment just because you think it is fun, yup.
“Makoto-sama, what will you be doing today?”
“Hmm, I am thinking of going out for a bit.” (Makoto)
“Going out, is it. Then, I will make the preparations qui—”
“Ah, that’s fine. I will be going out on my own.” (Makoto)
It has been two days since the duel.
Yesterday, for the sake of information, I checked out the people to be cautious of by using Marker. There were people doing suspicious movements, and there were people who didn’t take a single step outside. From within those group of people, Makirus was one who moved around here and there busily.
I thought the places she went to were pretty problematic, so I was thinking of confirming those places today.
“On your own?” (Erin)
“I will just be checking stuff for a bit using teleportation.” (Makoto)
“Y-You will be using t-teleport magic?” (Erin)
“Uh, yeah.” (Makoto)
I have already explained teleportation to the Queen and the others, and Erin is one of those people, so she knows I can use it. But this will be the first time she will see me use it, so she seems a bit nervous.
I think it is incredibly plain-looking and there’s nothing interesting about it though.
“Erin and Toto, I am counting on you guys to guard the fort while I’m away, okay?” (Makoto)
I grab the white manju that is indulging in sleep and throw it to Erin. The white manju had its sleep suddenly disturbed and was in the air crying out ‘mukyu mukyu~!’ as protest, but as if I care. You useless criter that’s always sleeping.
That’s why you fell from being a sacred beast. Live a bit more primly. If you were to do that, you would be more of a sacred beast…no, that won’t be happening, huh. It would be impossible for this guy. It is a useless demonic beast that only eats and sleeps after all.
“Live strong, Toto.” (Makoto)
While feeling pity for Toto, I activate [Akashic Library].
[Akashic Library – activating Map Load.]
[Showing in a radius of 10 km around the Motoyasu royal castle everything simplified aside from the main facilities.]
“If I remember correctly, it was around here… Oh, there it is.” (Makoto)
Scrolling the map, I search for the person using Marker, and it looks like it is moving.
“Caught her in good timing it seems.” (Makoto)
[Teleport – Location: the Kokomido orphanage, side alley.]
I set the coordinates of the teleportation, and insert the information of the location I am teleporting to for the first time.
“Erin, if Niva-san comes, tell her I have gone outside.” (Makoto)
[—Information load finished.]
[Preparations for teleportation finished.]
“Well then, I will be going.” (Makoto)
“H-Have a safe trip.” (Erin)
With Erin seeing off my departure, I teleport from a royal castle room to the set location.
☆☆ ☆☆ ☆☆ ☆☆ ☆☆
The location I teleported to was dim, and a slightly putrid smell entered my nose.
I did know that this area was not too maintained from what I saw in the map, but this is worse than I thought.
Lower strata residential area of the royal capital — also known as the lower class district.
It could be called the darkness of the royal capital, and it is a lawless area that experiences crimes daily. What is that person doing in this kind of place? What is she trying to accomplish? Looks like it will be important to see whether it is okay to ignore it for now, or crush her immediately.
“Now then, let’s hurry.” (Makoto)
I look up at the grey weather and then check the surroundings. Confirming that there’s no presences around, I activate [Intangible] and leave the alley.
Let’s go, then.
With the help of the Marker, I tail the person in question.
This person that is wearing a black robe and covering her eyes deeply with the hood of it was walking in the alley and was looking around the place as if searching for something. She is clearly acting suspicious. But even that attire looks normal in this kind of place.
This place is a gathering of people that are doing their best to simply live for one day more and have no time to worry about others. The royal castle is on the max levels of deceitfulness, but in a different meaning, this place is also the same.
This person has explosive levels of suspiciousness.
This person that’s wearing a black robe and hiding her face in a place like this all alone is today’s target, magic division leader, Makirus.
I knew that she had been doing strange moves these few days, but since yesterday, she began going to the lower class district. At that time, I was looking at it from the royal castle, so I couldn’t tell what she was doing, but from the looks of it, she seems to be searching for someone. Suddenly, several children came running to Makirus and brought out their hands.
The ones who came to speak to her were children of around ten years old. The children had received something and were giving their thanks with a smile. Just in case, I check with [Analyze] to see what she was giving them, but what she gave them was small candy, and didn’t have anything strange to it.
Is it possibly an act of charity?
It is kind of different from my first impression of her and the information of her past I got of Niva-san. I can’t see her as someone who would do acts of charity. But that sight of hers patting the head of the smiling children eating candy, it made me doubt those thoughts of mine.
After that, she continued walking around the lower class district for around two hours and was giving out candy to children, but when the rain finally came, the people entered their houses and Makirus covered herself with the hood again and disappeared within the rain.
☆☆ ☆☆ ☆☆ ☆☆ ☆☆
I was looking at the candy she gave out while lazing around in my room.
What happened just now was so shocking that I told Niva-san and she said ‘didn’t you see wrong?’ and was seriously surprised. Meaning that Makirus isn’t the kind of person to do that.
“Maybe some sort of groundwork for a plan?” (Makoto)
Most of the people she was interacting with were children. She might be trying to do something by giving away candy, but I can’t tell what that something is.
How problematic. This is exactly the kind of times when I would like to rub the droopy ears of Erin, and yet, Niva-san gave her some work and she is currently going around performing those. Working my personal maid hard, unforgivable. I can’t mofu mofu like that!
Four o’clock, huh…
I confirm the time on the wall clock, and there’s still 2 hours till dinner, so just keeping tabs of the others like this would bore me to hell.
When I stood up thinking about wandering around the castle…
“Makoto-sama, excuse my intrusion.”
At the same time that the door was knocked, it opened, and Niva-san entered.
“No wait, I haven’t answered you.” (Makoto)
“I knew you were here, so I omitted that part. I also already confirmed that you were not changing.” (Niva)
“Am I being peeped?” (Makoto)
“Yes, completely.” (Niva)
An unexpected straight affirmation!
“The usual girl is peeking at you from the ceiling, but don’t mind it.” (Niva)
“I know, but I would like some more privacy~.” (Makoto)
“…If you need to, you can speak to the ceiling. It will make you feel better, you know? She is waiting eagerly for that moment.” (Niva)
“I kind of don’t wanna.” (Makoto)
I don’t like this. This silver haired maid-san is getting better at teasing me.
“Now then, let’s leave the joking aside.” (Niva)
“Right… You are really not peeping, right?” (Makoto)
“Don’t you know about the presences around you? Also, there’s not enough people, so we can’t unnecessarily use our human resources.” (Niva)
Can I take that as me being trusted? …Hm? Wait, why is it that she knows about what’s happening inside when she is not peeping? That’s kind of scary.
“It is the basics of a maid. If I perk my ears, I can distinguish the rustling of clothes to even the moanings of a love affair.” (Niva)
“Can you please stop casually reading my mind? —Wait, those ears of yours are really scary sharp.” (Makoto)
“It was showing in your face. Anyways, we will be heading to Almina’s place, so can I have you accompany me?” (Niva)
“That’s quite the sudden request. Or more like, Almina’s place?” (Makoto)
After Niva-san responded with a “Yes”, she urged me to move and, thinking that something happened to Almina, I headed to where she is. It ended up with us heading to the inner palace.
☆☆ ★★★ ☆☆
In a tasteless room where there’s only the bare necessities, there’s a single girl there hugging her knees and looking outside the window.
Spiritless face and blank eyes.
1 month before, she was having a normal life, and yet, for some reason, it ended up in this way. The girl was looking outside the window with those emotions dimly drifting inside of her.
Apprentice priestess, Almina.
It was two years ago that she entered the church as an apprentice priestess. Her father abandoned the family and left home, and Almina and her mother that were left were living by themselves. However, that mother of hers had died from a disease that was going around at those times, and Almina, who was left behind alone, admired the priestesses that took care of her with dedication and dreamed of being a priestess, so she joined the church.
It wasn’t as if she was especially beautiful or anything, and she has a side of hers that is a bit clumsy and air-headed, but her smile was cute. But within the priestesses that joined around the same time as her, there weren’t any who were especially talented and, even as she trained everyday, not much results were made.
That was the word that described Almina the best.
This young girl that learned of the unfairness of the world at the young age of 15 held her knees, and just like that, laid to the side and closed her eyes.
(I want to sleep like this forever.)
At that day when she was ordered by the Archbishop to do the hero summoning, she felt fear at the hero summoning that has a highly bad reputation of being called ‘Priestess Killer’, and at the same time, felt a slight bit of pride about it. Those two emotions were mixed together only for a few days. Once she calmed down and thought about it, the reality of it naturally comes.
No one expects the hero summoning to succeed.
When she realized this, she noticed that there was no place for her in the temple. Almina, who was chosen as the priestess who will be performing the Priestess Killer hero summoning, was being avoided by everyone. Even the apprentice priestesses that got along with Almina had disappeared from her side, and in around two weeks, there was no one by Almina’s side.
It was as if everyone was trying to shoo her away.
Almina did her best in studying about the hero summoning, and did nothing but train to increase her ability as a priestess.
At that time, the archbishop called for Almina, and she experienced hell. She managed to escape and it ended up in a fail attempt, but Almina’s heart ended with a deep wound in her heart, and as if running away from that fear and pain, she single-mindedly devoted herself to training, and then…the day of the hero summoning arrived.
The day where everyone expected the hero summoning to fail.
Contrary to everyone’s expectations, the hero summoning succeeded. It ended in success.
Five people were summoned.
At first, no one understood what was happening. The reality that the doomed-to-fail hero summoning had succeeded had not seeped into their minds and a bit of time passed blankly.
And then, after a while, it finally came out, a voice that said ‘Hero-sama…’.
But the response was denial.
The black haired man said she had the wrong person. He seemed to be somewhat uncivil and furrowed his eyebrows as if in bad humour. Seeing this man looking around, Almina steadily felt as if her back was freezing.
The outside factor that snuck into a past hero summoning and changed the royal capital into a sea of fire, bringing many casualties with it. After that, it was decided that the priestesses that fail the hero summoning should be killed.
‘It succeeded, but it failed’, thinking this instinctively, Almina questioned the man desperately. The other four were dumbfounded and weren’t in a state that could converse, so the only one who could react to her voice was the black haired man.
(I don’t want to die, I don’t want to die.)
(I want to live, I want to live.)
Clinging to those emotions, she questioned over and over.
‘I want to live, even if shamefully…’, hiding those wishes of hers, Almina single-mindedly questioned. But even with that, he didn’t accept, and at the end, was scolded.
Almina felt as if everything in front of her had turned pitch black.
After that, checking their status, it was confirmed that the black haired man was simply caught in it.
The other four were Heroes, and the black haired man was just an ‘ordinary citizen’ that was dragged in.
He wasn’t an Abnormal Monster.
Almina was relieved by this, but then, she noticed.
Almina was incompetent as a priestess, but it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Almina’s instincts were better than the average person. That’s something a priestess normally has as they listen to the words of the Gods, but in Almina’s case, rather than calling it instinct, it would be more accurate to call it ‘imagination’.
Just that, for some reason, she has a bad habit of imagining things in a negative manner.
If she were to always think in that way and fall in fear, she wouldn’t be able to show results in her lessons. That’s why she is called incompetent, but inside of Almina, she had reached to the worst kind of conclusions.
‘The hero summoning has succeeded, but an outside element was mixed in it. Maybe they will do something to me because of this’, ‘in the worst case…’, noticing this, Almina was scared.
‘If I continue staying in the temple, I will definitely be… I don’t want to live a daily life where I live in fear’. Holding those kind of emotions inside of her, she asks for the heroes to defeat the Demon Lord.
Holding back the desire to shout out that, in reality, she wanted them to save her.
While being tormented by these chaotic thoughts, in the end, she reached the conclusion that ‘This is the fault of the Demon Lord. No doubt about it.’ With those emotions filling her, Almina’s voice began to show anger and hatred in it.
‘It is all…the Demon Lord’s fault…’
‘That’s why, I want them to defeat the Demon Lord’. Maybe those feelings transmitted to them, the hero boy stood up and showed his anger.
That figure of his was the very same as the hero of legends. ‘With this, the world will be saved, but I will surely not be saved’.
But a saving arrived.
The Queen, who worried for Almina’s safety, had taken her under her protection. The public reason given was that they have to protect the priestess that succeeded in the hero summoning, but Almina was explained that, in reality, it is to avoid an unfair disposal. Because Almina had an idea of the reason why, she obediently accepted.
And so, the present.
Being in the former inner palace with the pretext of protection, which is more like imprisonment, Almina didn’t have much to do. She would finish her duties as a priestess which has become a daily habit of hers, and after that, she would pass her days lazily.
Days that were like heaven and, at the same time, hell.
In exchange for safety, this place didn’t have freedom.
Even though she wished to not die, when this wish got fulfilled, another desire came. Almina was in self-derision at how hopeless she was for being like that, and once again closes her eyes.
“Almina-sama, it is Niva.”
“Ah, yes… I will open it now.” (Almina)
But she was interrupted by an unusual visitor.
Almina hurriedly raised her body and opens the door of the room.
“G-Good evening. What business do you have toda—” (Almina)
There, she noticed that it wasn’t only one visitor, and when she confirmed who that person was, Almina’s eyes open wide in surprise.
“Y-You are…” (Almina)
The person that appeared together with the personal maid of the Queen, Niva, and had raised his hand in a casual manner was the ‘ordinary citizen’ that was caught in the hero summoning, the black haired man.