“Welcome back, Waka-sama, and everyone.”
“I am back, Tamaki.” (Makoto)
Tamaki, who I left in charge of the shrine and temple in Asora, received us who returned to Asora.
I said ‘left in charge’, but after she finishes her daily duties, she is basically free to do whatever.
She can go look around the town, and she can also watch what the other races are working at.
We simply haven’t given her the permission to go outside, and Tamaki takes it as time to get familiar to Asora.
Or so I say, but Tamaki has high adaptability.
I don’t know how to say it, but It is like she doesn’t have any flaws.
I smell a slight scent of a liar from her, but she doesn’t look like the kind of person who would say lies that would hurt others, and she isn’t doing that.
Well, she is capable, but somewhat fishy. That’s the impression I have of her from my intuition.
The Gods on the other side were the ones who arranged this, so I don’t think their objective was simply to bring harm to me.
Just that, it seems like the Gods have a mischievous side to them.
It might be that, for them, it is mischievous, but for me, it is quite the big deal though.
My house…no, mansion.
At the first floor’s hall, there’s a whole lot of food lined up, from the standard ones to the new creations. I choose some food randomly and listen to the reports first.
There seems to be a lot of dishes here that were made after being stimulated by Lorel, so once my job is over, let’s go around trying them out.
“There’s also something I want to Shiki about in regards to Jin and the others.” (Makoto)
“Let’s begin from Tamaki who told me first that she had something she wanted to report to me.” (Makoto)
“Oh my, I am sorry that I am going before you senpai, Shiki-san.” (Tamaki)
“I don’t mind.” (Shiki)
The reason I returned earlier to Asora than scheduled was in most part because of this. I was interested in what Tamaki saw in Asora and wanted to report to me.
Tomoe and Mio aren’t saying anything and are just staying a distance away.
Or more like, these two have enjoyed Lorel to hell and beyond, and are pretty satisfied.
It seems there was plenty enough harvest from it, and they are in a good mood.
I feel like Shiki is somewhat nervous though.
Thinking about that state of Izumo and what happened at Kannaoi, I also think that the result was acceptable.
And I don’t know how many times I have repeated the ‘as long as the result is good’ until now.
Shiki is probably in the sentiment that I will be scolding him, but it is impossible for me.
What right do I have to do that?
Just that…I want to hear from Shiki himself just what he thinks about his students, especially Jin and the others.
“So, go ahead, Tamaki.” (Makoto)
“Alright. I have been watching this vast Asora all these days, and it goes without saying that I have been moved and surprised by the daily, so I will skip those parts.” (Tamaki)
“The other day…Shii of the Forest Onis was brought here from Lorel. Do you remember?” (Tamaki)
At the time when we had to fight both Picnic Rose Garden and Apple, she seemed to have been injured and she was in a strange state.
Even after the fight when things had calmed down, she still seemed strange, so I returned her to Asora.
“Of course, I remember.” (Makoto)
“She had been charmed by the Empire’s Hero.” (Tamaki)
“I mean, was on the verge of being charmed.” (Tamaki)
Her following words made my tension decrease slightly.
No, I can’t be relieved by that.
That guy’s magic tool that’s apparently called charm perfume made the Lorel Union crazy.
But if it almost got Shii, it must mean that it broke through the charm resistance of a Forest Oni?
In that case, the Tomoki countermeasure we placed in Asora isn’t enough?
In the first place, she turned weird after that fight, so the charm came from Picnic Rose Garden’s side?
Isn’t that bad?
They are coming to Tsige, you know.
“Our countermeasure and the hero’s charm were rivalled, no, our side was at a slight disadvantage.” (Tamaki)
“So you saw that, and healed her?” (Makoto)
“…Yeah. Rather than saying I healed her, that thing couldn’t even be called a spell, it had become more like a tumor.” (Tamaki)
Tamaki opens and closes her hands as if showing the gesture of doing an operation.
“Tumor, huh.” (Makoto)
I didn’t have a good impression of the charmed women and men when I saw them.
On top of that, it acts like a curse, which makes it even more unsavory.
“I heard about it. A charm perfume, right? Something like that alone wouldn’t be able to create such an ingrained kind of charm. And so, I wanted to hear about how she fought, and if possible, have Tomoe-san arrange her memories.” (Tamaki)
“It isn’t just the perfume?” (Makoto)
“Yeah. Probably the people that have become puppets from the charm perfume or people that were charmed prior were being taught step by step the efficient way of doing this, and how to use it.” (Tamaki)
“Shii turned weird after that fight with Picnic Rose Garden, no doubt about it. Then, there’s the need to investigate the guys that are coming to Tsige too… This is problematic-ja. Considering the situation, I will cooperate.” (Tomoe)
“Thank you, Tomoe-san.” (Tamaki)
Should we do this secretly, or should we speak to Vivi-san, who is the one in charge, and push their cooperation?
No, there’s the chance that Vivi-san is the source.
It would be better to confirm with Shii first to see if she is unrelated and then speak to them.
We were the ones who asked them to come, it wouldn’t be good if we were to secretly investigate them.
“We should avoid doing this secretly as much as possible. And if we can, tell Vivi-san this and have her cooperate. That’s the course of action I would like to take it to.” (Makoto)
“Understood. We will do it that way.” (Tomoe)
Tomoe easily agreed.
“At any rate, in such a way, huh. Of course it wouldn’t feel good being charmed.” (Makoto)
“Yeah, it is like this after all.” (Tamaki)
Tamaki took out from her breast pocket a bottle that’s the size of her hand.
Inside it, there’s a light brown mixed with pink…gall-looking thing drifting about with its contours blurring out.
There were a number of feelers coming out from the bumps and disappearing.
It is plain disgusting.
It is especially something I don’t want to see at the dining table.
“That’s his charm?” (Makoto)
“Yes, it is the very thing that was taken out from the charm of the Empire’s Hero, the charm of Tomoki.” (Tamaki)
“Is it alive?” (Makoto)
“No, this appearance is simply something that took shape after fixing the coordinates inside this bottle. It normally doesn’t have a settled appearance. Ah, by the way, this is a Skill of mine, and it always helps me out a lot in observing and researching. If you go back to the roots of sealing magic, this one is from a long time ago—” (Tamaki)
“I will listen to that story in detail later. Just tell me if that thing is already harmless or not.” (Makoto)
“Harmless. Putting it simply, just take it as having been given an incredibly amazing formalin.” (Tamaki)
“Got it. It was a saving that you found it before it was too late. Thanks, Tamaki.” (Makoto)
We must not let the charm be spread in Tsige.
Even if there’s a second stage to that perfume, I will block it, but I didn’t think there would still be remains of the first.
“I am also relieved that I was able to be of use for the first time. By the way, I will be changing the subject here, but…” (Tamaki)
“It seems like you are doing a new experiment with the adventurers in the Mirage Town.” (Tamaki)
“…Yeah, if I remember correctly, Tomoe and Shiki were doing it. It is apparently a test to evaluate the adventurers in the new area, or something like that.” (Makoto)
Tomoe and Shiki nod.
Mio is in the middle of her meal.
“It was pretty interesting to watch. If possible, I would like to watch and interact with the guests. Is that okay?” (Tamaki)
Tomoe and Shiki were looking at Tamaki with questioning eyes.
But it is not like she is saying anything outrageous.
If I remember correctly, they will let adventurers visit not only once but several times, and with the revisits, they will select people that will be treated as regular customers.
It is to give them more information and see how they will evaluate this place. That’s all there is to it.
“You are way too strong, Tamaki, so if you can hold back in that area, I don’t mind if it is only for a bit.” (Makoto)
“…Thank you very much, Waka-sama!” (Tamaki)
“Just make sure not to get in the way as a whole. Don’t forget the *Ho-Ren-So*, okay?” (Makoto) <Means Report-Inform-Consult.>
“Of course! That’s all I had to say. Well then, I will be excusing myself first. I will be enjoying the specialty goods of Lorel.” (Tamaki)
“Yeah, enjoy—” (Makoto)
“Where are the potatoes?!” (Tamaki)
She must be referring to the potato shochu there.
For some reason I know.
“Waka-sama! This time’s arbitrary action of mine, I understood plenty well that it was a dangerous move that might have had demerits for Asora and the Kuzunoha Company, however, I would like Waka-sama to understand their potential as students and—” (Shiki)
Right after seeing off Tamaki, Shiki saw the chance and suddenly lowered his head and began to apologize.
“It is okay.” (Makoto)
“—Eh, huh?” (Shiki)
“It is true that it was an arbitrary action that wasn’t the best move or the second best move for us. Honestly speaking, when I heard that Jin and the others came to Kannaoi, I didn’t understand what you were thinking.” (Makoto)
“But, looking at Izumo alone, in just a few days, no, it was actually with only one night, huh. With just that much, he showed such change.” (Makoto)
“It was like he was a completely different person. It seems like his love at first sight had a lot to do with it though. In terms of raising them, I can now tell that that night in Kannaoi was a splendid chance.” (Makoto)
“Also, in order to teach your students, you didn’t do it by staying one step back, but faced them sincerely from the front, and watched over them.” (Makoto)
“At some point in time, you have become more of a teacher than me, huh, Shiki.” (Makoto)
His position was of a helper, but in essence, the growth plan and lessons of Jin and the others, as well as the one who was the closest to the students was Shiki.
When it came to them, there were moments when he and I would have clashing opinions.
But I don’t know whether that was Shiki being too heated up about it, or me being too cold about it.
I think there’s no waste in the act of teaching others.
However, you have to face it properly.
I also have to move forward.
I glance at Mio.
She is pulling soba.
Probably just a bit more for her to go for the desserts.
At the Yaso-Katsui dungeon, I was reminded by Rokuya-san…about just how much burden I have been placing on Mio by hesitating.
“…Yes. It looks like the experiences of teaching in the Academy have stimulated many of my far past memories that I already only remember hazily. There’s no doubt that I am slowly beginning to treat my students Jin, Amelia, Izumo, Daena, Misura, and the second group that came after as my own beloved pupils.” (Shiki)
“Beloved pupils, huh.” (Makoto)
“I already don’t see them as guinea pigs. There’s a part of me that’s seriously wishing to make their futures, their desired futures into a reality.” (Shiki)
“That’s why you acted recklessly there?” (Makoto)
“Yes. But I will make sure to guide them in a way that they will become people that will be beneficial for Waka-sama. They will by no means become enemies that oppose us.” (Shiki)
“Got it. Then, let’s properly raise the students we are currently watching over! I will also try looking after them a bit more.” (Makoto)
“Thank you very much! I will be providing my heartfelt support to Waka-sama in Rotsgard from now on as well!” (Shiki)
“…I have to move forward after all.” (Makoto)
“It’s nothing. Now then, today’s report meeting is over!” (Makoto)
The Academy aside, it is the first place where the Kuzunoha Company opened a store after all.
There’s a lot of things that began from there.
Now then, one matter done.
“Tomoe, show Shiki some of the Lorel food that might go well for him. There were a lot of sweet ones, right?” (Makoto)
“…Fumu, understood.” (Tomoe)
Tomoe is strangely obedient.
Well, that’s fine for now.
There’s something else I have to do tonight.
“Are you having fun?” (Makoto)
“Yes! I feel like the japanese food has progressed the most until now. Of course, everything still has a lot of room for improvement, but the future of it is glittering a whole lot!” (Mio)
That’s a delicious-looking soybean rice cake.
It doesn’t change my feelings.
“When you are done eating, I want you to come to my room.” (Makoto)
“Yes! …Eh?” (Mio)
Mio gave out a hearty response as always, but she dropped the plate on her hand onto the table and had an absentminded face as she looked at me.
Haha, well, of course it would turn out like this.
But this is not a joke.
“Yeah, I want to pass time with you in my room, Mio.” (Makoto)
In other words, in that meaning.
Mio’s eyes open wide.
“Can you?” (Makoto)
“Of course!” (Mio)
She wiped her mouth, and with her face facing up, she gulped down her glass of alcohol in one go, wait, isn’t that quite the strong one?! …It should be fine. It is just like Mio.
Everyone is surrounding the food at a different table.
Only our table is already at the end phase.
I looked at Mio.
Mio looked at me.
I left the hall first, and Mio followed a bit after.
She slowly caught up to me, and eventually held my hand.
“I am sorry for making you wait for so long.” (Makoto)
“I…! I extended it on my own once! That’s why, I didn’t think that a chance would come again this fast… And more so, from Waka-sama.” (Mio)
“Yeah, having your pact with me as the only important thing between us is just terrible.” (Makoto)
“Even though we are together so much, and have these many memories together, leaving something defined with your important people in this way…to think I was continuously putting such an important thing for later. I think it is my fault…” (Makoto)
When we arrived at my room, we both sat side by side, and began to talk leisurely.
It was bit by bit, but for some mysterious reason, we didn’t run out of things to talk about.
The things that have happened until now, and the slapstick events that happen in Asora, we shared them as if chewing them thoroughly, and we entered the bath that was in the room together.
Talking about baths, there was that embarrassing event at the hot springs in Kaleneon.
But even that was a funny talk that made the both of us laugh.
It was a tender and important time for us.
We changed into thin night clothes, and I hugged Mio to show my resolve.
“Only one thing. You might end up thinking of me as an insensitive woman though.” (Mio)
“Say it.” (Makoto)
“About the important women at that side, in Japan… Is it okay?” (Mio)
“…I will be honest here…” (Makoto)
There’s no point in deceiving her here.
This is not just a one-night stand. She is someone that will always be by my side from now on.
“About you, Mio, and Tomoe…” (Makoto)
“And also the girls that I hurt in Japan, I consider them dear. But if I were asked if it is okay to do this today…” (Makoto)
“I would say I will never regret it. I want to be even closer to you, Mio. I want to treasure you even more. Sorry, I haven’t really decided what comes after.” (Makoto)
“No, it is the same for me.” (Mio)
“I want to become one with Waka-sama, too. I want to be closer, convey it, melt together. I have been keeping it inside my heart all this time. If Waka-sama really does wish for me…I am happy.” (Mio)
There was no need for words anymore.
I sealed her mouth that called me Makoto instead of Waka…
And took a big step forward in my relationship with Mio by my own will.
I woke up incredibly refreshed.
I opened my eyes. I wasn’t sleepy anymore, and there was strength welling up in me.
I take a deep breath.
I feel like the air tastes better than usual.
Why am I in such a good condition?
I look by my right without lifting my body.
The woman that should be there isn’t.
I raise my upper half and look around the room, but I don’t see Mio anywhere. Her kimono isn’t here either.
“Judging from the light, it should still be morning… Hmm, ah.” (Makoto)
My nose gives me the answer.
The drifting scent of food.
There’s no sound of the kitchen knife hitting the chopping board, but this really is like a cliche morning.
“It is breakfast, right?” (Makoto)
It doesn’t smell like rice and miso soup.
What is this?
The room is teeming with the scent of a lot of food as if it was a festival like christmas or a birthday was being celebrated.
This is not me just imagining it.
I feel like I have just smelled a bizarrely nice air.
I push my blanket aside and get out of the bed.
I am naked.
I ended up falling tightly asleep just like that.
My memories of yesterday were completely connected and I could recall them vividly.
“Clothes, my clothes are…” (Makoto)
“No no, it is fine to stay like that, Waka.”
“Wa?! T-Tomoe?!” (Makoto)
Tomoe enters my room nonchalantly.
With a wide smile, without a single ounce of hesitation.
“Good morning, Waka.” (Tomoe)
“Good morning ain’t what you should be saying! As you can see, I haven’t changed yet! I will finish quickly, so get out for a bit!” (Makoto)
“I approve of you finishing quickly, but…I refuse the get out part!” (Tomoe)
“You are not making any sense!” (Makoto)
“Even if I say good morning, I haven’t slept a wink.” (Tomoe)
“You had fun last night, right?” (Tomoe)
“?! Were you watching?! That, that ain’t okay, you know?!” (Makoto)
Did she see what transpired in this room last night?
Tomoe, what a thing to do.
Or more like, just how much closer are you going to inch towards me?!
“Watching is a faulty way to put it.” (Tomoe)
“What do you mean by faulty?! Y-You are close, Tomeo-I mean, Tomoe!” (Makoto)
“I was waiting -to be precise.” (Tomoe)
Not only changing, Tomoe was so close I couldn’t even move at all.
The eyes of Tomoe that were narrowed from her wide smile open slightly.
She was making the glossy eyes of a woman.
Now that I see properly, her clothes are slightly more open than that of her usual night attire.
It is not similar, but the atmosphere reminds me of that figure of Tomoe at that time when I first made a pact with her.
“Excuse me.” (Tomoe)
Tomoe pushed me pretty hard.
I was naked and in a pose that couldn’t move properly, so I couldn’t resist it, and ended up falling to the bed on my back.
And then, naturally end up looking up at Tomoe.
“I had an agreement with Mio that she would be going first.” (Tomoe)
“I was waiting…for you to finish. To think that you would go all the way till early morning, and end up falling asleep deeply.” (Tomoe)
S-She seriously watched the whole thing?
Or more like, what was she waiting for?
For what? Hm, promise?
Between Tomoe and Mio?
Another nostalgic memory aside from the one of before about Tomoe resurfaced in my mind.
That was at the time when I named them.
Right. They were bickering about the order of who would be attending me in the night.
They certainly were fighting there.
But last night it wasn’t Mio attending me at night, or any such kind of duty.
It is a bit different.
I don’t know how to put it in words though!
“Mio is done now, so -obviously- I am next. Don’t worry, from what I saw, you should be fine, Waka. Or rather, I am the one who doesn’t know if I will be able to last. Fufufu…well then!!” (Tomoe)
I am all exhausted…or not.
For some reason, I am overflowing with energy instead.
No, that’s not it!
Should I avoid it? Or take it?
It is so sudden my thoughts can’t keep straight.
It was shameful of me, but the instant of confusion let Tomoe mount me.
“Oi, order and all that stuff, you aren’t children, you know! Isn’t this bad?!” (Makoto)
Going right after?!
This is truly on a childish level of impatience…
“Makoto-sama, are you saying that Mio is more important than me?” (Tomoe)
“Wait, that’s not fair…” (Makoto)
You watched everything and yet say that?!
“Fufufu, I was a bit evil there. I know that you love us equally…no, hold us dear.” (Tomoe)
“Tomoe, you see…” (Makoto)
“I am a woman too. After the man I think the highest of showed off for a whole night to me, and we are in this position, there’s no way I can pull back.” (Tomoe)
She arbitrarily waited, and arbitrarily watched, and yet…
That really is…an unfair way of saying it.
Telling me that she doesn’t care if she becomes the bad guy here.
She is telling me that if need be, let it be.
But she definitely won’t be stopping.
“You can just count the stains on the ceiling, you know? Mio is spaced out cooking a massive amount of food, so she won’t notice.” (Tomoe)
“No way! You are pitch-black, Tomoe!” (Makoto)
“Yes, I am… But give me your affection as well…” (Tomoe)
Things like love are probably still too soon for me.
Now that I think about it, I haven’t even properly fallen in love yet.
It is true that with Tomoe and Mio, if I were to be asked which one is higher, I would say they both are the most important people for me, and there’s no order.
Having several most important people is quite the weird thing.
It is weird, and yet, my family, the archery club, my friends of Nakatsuhara Highschool, and Tomoe and the others are the number one most important for me.
If it is just the number one thing, I could say archery with certainty, and yet, when it comes to people, it suddenly becomes impossible to choose.
I think that the me recently has not been like that, but maybe I am indecisive?
Our lips overlap.
I decided to move forward.
That’s why I moved forward in my own way.
But that doesn’t mean it will move forward as I think it will, huh…
“Of course it would turn out this way.” (Makoto)
I want to get beaten up.
Dragon and tiger facing each other, that’s the kind of battle that’s unfolding between Tomoe and Mio.
Once noon hit, this time it was Mio who came into my room with a ladle in one hand.
It was so late of a time that it would make one question just how long are you going to take to make the meal, but it wasn’t a situation where I could make such a retort.
Because I was together with Tomoe.
Was it named wooden spoon, pocky, ladle? I don’t remember the name, but I was prepared to get the torture of Mio that is being passed by as punishment.
The person she attacked with killing intent was Tomoe instead.
Tomoe put on her clothes in an instant and took on the attack.
The two crashed out of the window and began an intense battle and verbal fight as I was left behind.
This is strange.
Inside my head, I thought this would be a morning with a bit more of a cooler step forward and growth though…
“Boss, in what part and in what way did my talk end up making things turn out this way?”
The adventurer that received the blood of Tomoe and became a half-dragon, Lime Latte, questions me with a straight stare.
Lime is an experienced person, so there’s times when I would listen to him about matters regarding men and women every now and then.
Even the before and afters of the act, and well, a variety of other things.
I thought ‘It is not like I will all of a sudden do that stuff’, so it went from one ear out of the other though.
Maybe I could have been able to put in practice the before on Mio’s case, and the after on Tomoe.
But the situation in itself was honestly way too much of an irregular one, so there’s no way someone like me with zero experience can do something about it.
Ah, now that I think about it, Lime now comes to Asora sometimes when together with Tomoe.
Since he is an official employee of the Kuzunoha Company, he is incredibly popular with the people of Asora.
I would say that he gets along way too well with the Gorgons at times though.
He was originally a hyuman, but now he is more like ‘feels like a hyuman’. It would be ideal if he were to keep company to the adventurers coming to the Mirage Town, but Lime is way too famous in Tsige to be able to leave that to him.
It is also known publicly that he is an employee of the Kuzunoha Company after all.
“…Boss, you are escaping reality-ssu ne.” (Lime)
“Shut up. Please don’t hit me while I’m down.” (Makoto)
Aah, the food of Mio is delicious as always.
The black soybeans are a bit wrinkly. I like that kind of texture on my black soybeans.
Ah, right right, there’s the umeshu <sake with plums> here that I found in Lorel.
It was thick, had a color like that of brandy, and was delicious.
“Eh, on the rocks-ssu ka?” (Lime)