WG – Chapter 144: Closed Manor

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“I have heard about it before, but actually seeing it is quite the sight.” (Mitsuki)

“Uhm, Souma, I think it is a bit of a stretch to say this is a normal…manor.” (Ina)

“I get it now. This is why it is called the solitary island on land, right?!” (Maki)

“Solitary island on land… Alone in the Land. No, World would be better…” (Sazan)

“…Ah, cow-san.” (Ringo)

My comrades arrived at the Aken residence and all of them said their own piece about it. 

Well, it would be shocking if you were to see it the first time. 

The entrance of the Aken residence I guided them to is a wasteland with nothing around. 

No, a wasteland with nothing but a stone circle standing right in the middle of it. 

There’s obviously not only no sight of the residence around, but no houses either.

There’s simply a circle of stone pillars of around 30 centimeters tall and around 3 meters in radius.

But I led my comrades, who were tilting their heads, into the stone formation, and had them touch the stone pedestal at its center. 

The moment they did, the scenery around them warped, and a big estate that doesn’t lose in size to the Nekomimi Mansion appeared. 

“We are here. This is the Aken Estate.” (Souma)

…That’s right. 

The Aken estate is a residence that was built in a pocket dimension with the assistance of magic. 

A place that you can only come to when using the teleportation device that utilizes the stone circle. A solitary island on land in the style of a fantasy world. 

The first thing that I confirmed after arriving in front of the Aken Estate was the teleportation device. 

The way to use this device is simple. 

You just have to touch the pedestal in the middle of the stone circle. 

With just that alone, you can come and go from the Aken Estate that is in a pocket dimension. 

But…

“…Nothing’s happening.” (Souma)

Even when I touched the center of the teleport device, it didn’t activate. 

My mouth warped into a grin. 

Looks like the event is properly running its course. 

With this, you could say this place has become a complete solitary island on land.

No, there’s no other land, so calling it that isn’t that accurate, but it is certain that this is more isolated than a normal solitary island. 

And there’s one more thing I want to confirm. 

“Mitsuki! Can you please search for the location details of any random person with your ring?” (Souma)

The cat ears of Mitsuki twitched for a moment there at my sudden question, and then she nodded. 

“Got it… Oh?” (Mitsuki)

Mitsuki does an uncharacteristic gesture of furrowing her brows. 

That expression of hers grew grimmer as time passed and, at the end, she seemed to be searching for someone. Her cat ears were circling like an antenna. 

…C-Cute~.

No matter how skilfully you move cat ears, you can’t spin it 360°, but that passionate attempt to cover for this amplified even more the already criminal cuteness it had. 

I had that arbitrary comment in my mind while I was staring up at her head and…

“W-Where are you looking at?!” (Mitsuki)

Mitsuki noticed my gaze and hid her cat ears with both hands all flustered. 

She glared at me with half embarrassment and half criticism, different from her usual 100% unamused eyes.

I have known Mitsuki since the game days, so I thought I knew quite a lot about her, but I still don’t know what makes Mitsuki embarrassed. 

“…Hngh! It seems like I can’t get a grasp of the locations of people outside of this island. The only people I could get a grasp on with the Explorer Ring were the 6 here.” (Mitsuki)

But she soon returned to her expressionless face as if playing it off and answered me, but her cheeks are slightly flushed and both of her hands are still on top of her head.

Also, as I can see from the tip of her cat ears poking out from her hands, they are twitching in embarrassment every now and then, so I guess she still hasn’t recovered completely. 

“I-I see. That’s good news for me.” (Souma)

I would feel bad teasing her too much, so I take the report of Mitsuki and return to the main topic. 

It is actually great news that Mitsuki can’t search for people on the outside world with her Exploration Ring. 

In that case, even if the Eye of the Heavens with a similar effect were to be used, my location will probably be unknown. 

Now that I think about it, search items are items that show the direction of the thing you are searching, so there’s no way it would be able to show the direction of someone in a different dimension.

Even if we think about this with a game perspective, this is most likely a completely different map that has no connection to the other world, so it would be pointless to ask which direction. 

With this, as long as we are inside this space, we don’t have to worry about Leila. 

“Well then, now that one worry is gone, let’s move to the mansion. We have to see the abilities of everyone after all.” (Souma)

When I said this, everyone nodded with overflowing determination. 

We have decided we are all going to be moving on our own accord here, and we will try to solve the mystery with the best of our abilities. 

What we have agreed upon before coming here were 2 things. 

The first one is: I know the truth of the crime, but I won’t tell my comrades about it. 

My best interest here would be to stay as long as possible in this space if I want to think about what to do regarding Leila, so there’s little benefit in me solving this quickly. 

Also, it may sound a bit late at this point in time considering what I have done until now, but it would be unnatural for a guy to come here and suddenly know everything about the matter, so I want to avoid solving the mystery out of the blue with my game knowledge. 

That’s why, in exchange for me not doing my best here, everyone aside from me will be investigating on their own, and will try to solve this mystery on their own discretion. 

With this, the people of the mansion won’t suspect us, and this also matches with the wishes of Maki and the others who are burning with motivation. 

Or more like, Maki…

“Souma! You DEFINITELY must not spoil it, okay?!” (Maki)

Even gave me a strict order not to.

There’s no doubt the one who is having the most fun in this event is Maki. 

It is in the end an event from Nekomimi Neko, so having too high expectations is a bit iffy though. 

Of course, I wouldn’t be that happy if my comrades were to solve the mystery instantly. 

However, even in that case, it will still buy us time, so in exchange for there not being any benefits to it, there’s no demerits either. 

You could say it is within acceptable boundaries. 

On the other hand, no matter how badly their deductions go, this event won’t have people dying, which I already know from the game. 

This is a rare peaceful event in Nekomimi Neko where there’s little demerits for the player, which is a boon in this moment when I have to think about Leila. 

Freed from the pressure of the Death Stalker even if only temporarily, I lightly pass by the cows who are pasturing at the small farm in front of the Aken Estate, and knock on the Aken residence I haven’t been in in a long while.

“Excuse me! I have come on behalf of the Knight Order, name’s Souma. Is the lord of the residence present?” (Souma)

The residents of the place looked at us dubiously at first for some reason, but the moment I gave them the letter of the knight captain, their attitude changed in one go.

“I see, so that’s how it is! So Spark Hawk-sama has…no, it is nothing. We welcome you.”

The circumstances have been written down to a certain degree in the letter. 

The lord of this residence, the head of the Aken family, Shizun-san, went right into the meat of the conversation.

“It is true that I do have a similar crest to this one. It is called the Holy Shield Crest, and it has the same shape and size as the medal that you showed me just now. There’s no doubt it is what’s being searched.” (Shizu)

Shizun-san took a breath there, and then opened up after staring into my eyes. 

“If the Hero-sama that defeated the Demon Lord says that he needs it, it wouldn’t be impossible for me to present it to you. However, can you please hear my request first?” (Shizun)

“What should I do?” (Souma)

I nodded and asked a question I already know the answer of. 

Hearing this, Shizun-san made an even more serious expression as he answered. 

“The crystallization of the Aken family’s generations of polishing barrier magic, the ring that is proof of the Aken family’s head, the Immortal Oath. I want you to protect this.” (Shizun)

Saying this, Shizun-san took out a card. 

On top of this white card the size of a trump card, there were fancy holographic letters dancing on it. 

{I will be coming to take the Oath of Immortality in the night when the blue stars shine at the zenith of the evening dusk. 

Phantom Thief, Night Wind.}

It is an excerpt that I have read countless times, but Maki went ‘ooh!’ at that showy theft notice, and Sazan went ‘Night Wind, huh… Fuh!’ as he brushed his hair up in an annoying fashion.

Shizun-san was holding his head with a heavy mood in contrast.

“And this ‘blue stars shining at the zenith of the evening dusk’ is actually tonight.” (Shizun)

By the way, even if I were to come the very same day or the next day, or maybe even 3 years after having received the captain’s letter, the theft notice will definitely be on the day you arrived. 

Because of this, aside from saying ‘blue stars shining at the zenith of the evening dusk’ there’s also ‘the night when the moon hides itself’, or ‘the night where red and blue stars meet’; a total of 10 different patterns. And so, it will always be written as such depending on the day you meet them, but I don’t know how it works in this world.

It would be one thing in the game, but in this world, the theft notice should have arrived before the letter to the knight captain. In that case, the contents should be set already…

While I was pondering about this, Mitsuki asked in wonder. 

“But, is it okay to allow people like us in a time like that? I think there’s the chance we could be the Night Wind person.” (Mitsuki)

“I was the one who asked for help from my old friend Spark Hawk-san. I have no objections to people who have been chosen by him. Also…I don’t want to escalate things too much here, so I couldn’t take the choice of calling the Knight Order.” (Shizun)

Shizun-san leaned forward at what Mitsuki pointed out, and lowered his voice as if implying this is only between us. 

“All the records of the teleport device come to me. That’s why I know who is in this estate. The time I received this notice is no exception of course.” (Shizun)

“Then, that means…” (Mitsuki)

Taking over from those words, Shizun-san nodded with a heavy expression.

“Yes. There were 6 people in this estate aside from me. The butler and maid serving this family, and my 4 children.” (Shizun)

He stated firmly as if he were a great detective in a story. 

“The culprit is among us!” (Shizun)

6 suspects.

In this estate that has been completely cut off from the outside…something will be happening tonight!!

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