I had lived a life where I had received quite the amount of love. This is not a distorted truth.
Every weekend, my aunt would take me to church. She did this because she was afraid that my father’s sins had been passed on to me.
My father was a person whose likes and dislikes were clearly divided. For starters, his sense of enlightenment. He couldn’t stand to see someone committing a logical fallacy. You could probably make an assumption about his personality if you consider the fact that he would go as far as to criticize my aunt for quoting her made-up God during family reunions and he would do so while in the presence of all of our relatives. Additionally, since he would only open his mouth if he was certain that he could win with his needlessly firm logic, as far as I know, he has never lost a debate before. If he had been born in Ancient Greece, then a school of thought from my father would have been passed down to this very day.
However, if he had stayed as just an ‘educated intellectual’, then his likes and dislikes wouldn’t have been so divided. My father was obviously an intelligent person, and he wore glasses as well, however, he had another attribute outside of those things.
My father was an otaku. As he was an otaku who wouldn’t type a single line of text without an emoticon, he was also an otaku who established a certain character from a game called 〈Higurashi When They Cry〉 as his persona simply because they had similar names. Imagine being refuted by an otaku who goes around wearing character t-shirts. Wouldn’t the murderous intent that comes from that be within normal standards? I’m digressing, but you can seriously tell how much of an unredeemable otaku my father was if you consider the fact that even my name was sacrificed to that ridiculous play on words. There’s a reason why I have a deep connection with that subculture.
In any case, she was right. My father’s sins were passed down on to me, so it was possible that the teachings of the Lord, Our Father, who had pardoned the sins of his children, could work as a miracle treatment and rid me of my sins.
Of course, this was an analysis that was only possible for me now that I had some leisure and could speak half-jokingly. There’s no way that the me during that time could possibly think like this.
I resisted. That resistance only furthered my aunt’s belief that my father’s sins had been passed down on to me. My aunt cried as she prayed. Our Father, who art in heaven. Forgive this lamb. Please forgive this child. Please watch over this lost lamb. This child doesn’t know what he’s saying right now. After she finished her prayers like that, the following repertoire would come after. Child, Yujin. You poor lamb. Why do you think I’m doing this? Why do you think I’m acting like this with you alone? All of this is for your sake. You too will understand one day. One day, when you have fulfilled your life and are standing in front of the Gates of Heaven, that person’s disciple will recognize you. This prayer is for the sake of helping you get into Heaven. This is for your sake.
It’s for you.
“I understand. I’ll give a testimony that follows, your scenario.”
That was Alshi’s response after we had finished telling her about everything.
“Hm, you’re rather submissive, wan.”
Although Roroa made a sarcastic remark and Ariya was getting choked up, Alshi was, as expected, more mature than Ariya. As she had regained a certain amount of composure compared to earlier, Alshi turned to face me and Sii instead of responding to that taunt.
“I have to protect Ariya as well. We’re already in, the same boat after all.”
She had an accurate awareness of reality. I felt relieved since it seemed I didn’t have to continue my explanation.
However, Alshi wasn’t finished.
“Regardless, more important than all that, I have a debt to, you and Sii.”
Alshi bowed her head courteously.
“I’m sorry for assaulting you both, in the infirmary.”
This was a bit⎯⎯⎯unexpected.
I intended to just put that incident behind us, but I didn’t think that she would mention it herself. Moreover, she even included Sii and gave a proper apology.
Should I say ‘It’s okay’? ‘Don’t worry about it’?
Let’s do this right.
“What do you think, Miss Sii?”
I wasn’t the only person she had wronged, and I wasn’t the only person she was apologizing to either. Therefore, I couldn’t make a decision by myself. I could tell from the eyes of the panicking Sii that she had realized this as well.
“Hmph. Two fingers are probably enough to pick stuff up. The fact that you have more than two fingers means that they have more uses than just picking stuff up. If you really want to apologize, then show some more sincerity!”
Ariya bit her lips as she continued to watch. She didn’t show any reactions beyond this.
Alshi bowed her head further. Her wavy, black hair flowed down and emitted a magnolia-like scent. Sii, who was folding her arms with a haughty expression on her face because of her newfound superiority, became slightly taken aback.
She soon ended up becoming even more startled. It was because Alshi had slowly descended from the bed while lowering herself.
While on her hands and feet.
She was crawling forward.
Alshi, who had arrived in front of the frozen Sii, lowered her head and⎯⎯⎯pressed her lips against the toe of Sii’s shoe.
Ariya let out a boiling voice. Instead of turning back to look at her, Alshi proceeded to talk while her head was lowered and her lips were pressed against Sii’s shoe.
“I’m sorry, Sii. Forgive, me.”
A husky voice resonated along with the scent of magnolias.
Sii was frozen in place. She most likely never expected for something like this to happen. She was letting out a panicked ‘uh⎯⎯⎯’ sound and was turning to look at me with eyes that were pleading for help.
I didn’t say anything. I simply pointed at my own head briefly. ‘Think’. Sii seemed to have understood my body gesture. Think about it yourself.
Time flowed by for a moment before Sii Garno Mikatni spoke.
“Do this to Yujin as well!”
Alshi bowed her head. Her injury must have still hurt, but she crawled towards me anyway and kissed the tip of my shoe despite letting out a painful groan. Silence followed after.
Sii turned to look at me.
“Yujin. your thoughts?”
I adjusted my glasses.
“I think it would be fine to forgive her.”
“All right.” Sii nodded. “I’ll forgive you, Alshi.”
Alshi finally got up once Sii had pardoned her. She walked off undauntedly and sat back down next to Ariya. Ariya, who was nearly in tears, leaned her head against her lover’s touch.
I mentally nodded.
First, Ariya. Her reaction of only biting her lips when Sii had told Alshi to show some more sincerity was splendid. Although her most splendid response was mentioning how she had helped and attempting to mediate between Sii and Alshi, compared to when she had displayed her urgent side, I had to grade the self-restraint she displayed just now highly. The cry she let out at the end probably couldn’t be helped, so I’ll ignore that.
Next, Alshi’s reaction was great as well. The fact that she stayed calm even though I didn’t give her an immediate response, and instead, handed the decision making reigns over to Sii. The fact that she didn’t lose her temper even though Sii got caught up in the mood and ended up speaking unreservedly. The fact that she had gone a step further and made Sii panic instead. The fact that she had done all of this while staying faithful to her own apology. The fact that she had consoled her lover in order to prevent her lover from harboring any grudges. Everything she did was perfect.
And finally, Sii.
Let’s not mind the fact that she had just gone with the flow. It’s Sii after all. Regardless, she was able to hastily compose herself after Alshi’s unexpected actions, and instead of going even more with the flow, Sii managed to show some self-restraint. She did so because she didn’t want to be resented by Ariya. She had sent Alshi to me because of this reason as well. By making her also do the same thing to me, she split the burden. Lastly, by forgiving Alshi after clearly reaching a mutual agreement with me, she was able to take the initiative. For a short while, Ariya will probably feel small while before Sii.
Good. If it’s these members, then the range of our ideas will also broaden by that much. If you consider the fact that this was while Roroa, who was the brightest among them, was not taking part in this, there was more to look forward to.
Roroa Ara Harte, who had been watching in an amused manner, raised a corner of her mouth.
“Wan, thank you for the show. So, what do you intend to do from now on, wan?”
“For starters, there’s something I want to ask you, Roroa. What exactly were those corpses? You weren’t the one who had killed them, right?”
“Corpses? Oh, do you mean the Gongshik corpses, wan? Why do you think that I wasn’t the one who had killed them?”
“Above all else, you don’t have the ability to do something like that, and if you had borrowed the ability of someone else, then there’s no way that the whole story wouldn’t have been leaked. Since Borg only said that those two fellows abruptly disappeared after entering the city, this proves you didn’t hire someone.”
Roroa nodded her face with an expression that was half-disappointed and half in awe.
“As expected, you’re sharp. Wan. As I had said before, I only discovered the corpses, wan. Everything after that was as written in the report, wan.”
“You have no idea who had killed them and what their murderer’s motives are?”
“At first, I thought it was the people from the Black Dragon Street, wan. But if the people from the Black Dragon Street had done it, then it’s impossible for Borg to not know about it, wan. Even if he’s just a branch manager.”
This wasn’t good. This meant that a power unknown to both the guards that are in charge of the security of the city and the Black Dragon Street that manages all of the illegal activities was moving around. Was it the Mage Tower? Was it the Fedchants? Or did a completely unrelated person kill them for their own personal reason? Why were people from Gongshik here in this city in the first place? All sorts of questions came to my mind. Fortunately, I had an immediate answer for the last one.
“They were here to have a secret rendezvous with you, weren’t they?”
“What makes you say that?”
“There are no coincidences.”
It didn’t make sense that of all people, it was this fellow who had discovered the corpses of the Gongshik members at such an opportune moment. Roroa let out a sigh.
“You’re re~ally sharp, wan. You’re right. The Orange Hawk Prince had hired the two of them, wan. They were supposed to meet up with me. Wan. But when I arrived at our secret rendezvous point at the promised time······.”
“There was only a pair of fallen corpses and you had no idea who the culprit was.”
“Wan, that’s right.”
Roroa responded while flapping her ears. Sii appeared to be shocked.
“What do you mean ‘that’s right’? You’re really rotten. How are you able to casually reveal the fact that you’ve been secretly communicating with people outside of the city and scheming potentially harmful things while right underneath the lord’s nose?”
“Wan, I never knew that your loyalty to Her Excellency the Earl was so outstanding, Miss Sii.”
Sii sprung to her feet. I grabbed her shoulder.
“Miss Sii, I understand that this is a provocation that’s worth getting upset about, but still. For my sake.”
“······Mm~~ Fine. I can’t get mixed into this as well. It’ll make things harder for Yujin.”
Despite saying that, it seems calming down her anger wasn’t an easy task as Sii situated herself on top of my lap. I held her from behind and rested my cheek on her hair. A fragrance and heat that felt like milk had spilled inside of an oven and dried. I spoke.
“What were you planning to do by meeting them?”
“I was going to hear them out first before I decided to do anything, wan. But because things had ended up like this······. I did give a report to the Orange Hawk Prince about it, but all he said in response was ‘is that so?’, so······. I was unable to hear any explanations, wan.”
Sii’s expression appeared to be asking why Roroa didn’t try to pry for more information. However, I could tell from Roroa’s tone and expression that she had already come to the conclusion that prying further would have been meaningless. A relationship where Roroa would carry out whatever the Orange Hawk Prince ordered her to do. It was a one-way relationship where the other side couldn’t give their opinion or ask any questions.
If that was the case, then there was one thing I had to confirm right now.
“Tell me about this Orange Hawk Prince.”
Roroa made a complicated face.
“He’s the third prince of the Kingdom of the Twelve Earthly Branches, wan. He isn’t an heir to the throne, but he has the authority to hand out semi-statuses such as knight or ladyship, wan. If you consider the fact that the majority of the princes like to shut themselves inside of the Twelve Earthly Branches’ palace, wan, he enjoys wandering around so much that he’s seen as eccentric. Wan. He’ll be visiting this city soon in order to watch the performance in the arena, wan.”
“I already know about those things. I’m talking about his nature.”
“He’s a scary individual, wan.”
The dog-eared girl with the heart of a snake declared.
“Not only is his position one of the highest, but his looks are impressive as well, wan. Furthermore, he’s also bright enough to utilize both of these aspects in just the right places, wan. If it’s just these three traits, then Yujin, at the very least you might be able to awkwardly imitate them, wan. You’re already expertly using your position as the Earl’s lover after all. However, that person has something which you don’t have, something which you aren’t capable of having, wan. Do you know what that is, wan?”
I thought about it. Now that she mentions it, this was something which I had already felt.
“It’s probably his ability to make decisions and his power to execute them.”
I continued my explanation.
“Regardless of the basis for the reason why I’m more cautious than necessary, if you consider the fact that he goes around flaunting his position, the fact that he had gone as far as to propose to the Silver Lion Earl, and the fact that he had offended the Earl by giving you a status, he’s the type of person who ignores every obstacle in his path once he’s made a decision, right?”
“As I expected, you might be able to win in terms of cleverness. Wan. Additionally, he’s still a prince so even if he behaves however he wants, there’s barely anyone out there who’s capable of restraining him, wan. Even Her Excellency the Earl would have some trouble doing something if he were to make an unreasonable demand, wan.”
If you wrap it up like this, then he just sounds like some childish noble who doesn’t know how scary the world is, but there’s no way that Roroa would be putting him on top of a such a pedestal if that were the case. It must be exactly as Roroa had said. The Orange Hawk Prince was most likely handsome, bright, and cunning.
I had to make preparations for him since he was going to be visiting soon.
However, that was a task for later. For the time being, it was enough to just be aware of his existence.
“I have to face Sophna before that guy arrives.”
“Do you have a plan in mind, wan? We’ve covered our biggest weakness, but······.”
“Is Sophna strong? Let’s pretend that everyone here ambushed her all at once. Could we win?”
“What an abrupt and drastic hypothetical. It would be impossible for us to come out victorious, wan.”
“It’s best to cover the drastic ideas first. Are our chances absolutely zero?”
Roroa nodded her head. Alshi was the one who explained why.
“Miss Sophna is an, Ascended Being. The fact that she’s strong, is obvious. Even if we were to kill her, she can resurrect at least, two times. She’ll become stronger after each resurrection as well.”
I’m the one who was transported to another world, but only the stringent people had cheat-like abilities.
“All right. Facing her in battle is impossible, then. Excluding that, is there anything else that could be even remotely referred to as her weakness?”
“In the end, it’s Her Excellency the Earl. Wan. That grandma would do anything for Her Excellency the Earl. She’s all that grandma has left, after all, wan.”
Despite that, she had shut herself in her room after the Earl was kidnapped.
“She shut herself in her room because the Earl got kidnapped, right?”
“That’s right, wan. Miss Sophna was also a member of the Mage Tower. Wan. It seems she did whatever she could in order to stop it, but what’s inevitable is inevitable.”
Roroa answered while shrugging her shoulders. Despite the fact that she was talking as if this was someone else’s business, there was some bitterness in her voice. This fellow was most likely also present in this castle when the Earl had been kidnapped. As a member of the guard.
I wonder how she felt during that incident.
How did everyone feel when the Silver Lion Earl, when the esteemed daughter of the earl at that time, was kidnapped?
I turned on my iPad and organized the information of everything we had talked about until now. Ariya’s timeline. Roroa’s timeline. Gongshik. Orange Hawk Prince. Sophna again. I didn’t have a stratagem to handle her yet. I still didn’t have enough puzzle pieces.
Sii puffed out her cheeks.
“All right~~! Let’s think about this complicated stuff later. You can’t think of anything right now anyway, right? We shouldn’t try to rush things.”
Those words were similar to what she had said to me back when we had resolved ourselves to retaliate against the Silver Lion Earl. Alshi turned her head.
“Sii, you’ve been speaking, well lately.”
“D-Do you have a problem with that?”
“Not really.” Alshi turned her gaze away. “It’s nice.”
Right when her face was beginning to gradually become red-hot, Ariya added another blow.
“I think so as well.”
Sii lowered her face. Her mouth was wriggling like a worm that had been tossed under the scorching sun. I reached my hand out and patted her head. Until the day she got used to the treatment which she rightfully deserved. I then spoke.
“Now then, like Sii had suggested, let’s put aside the problems we can’t solve yet.”
Ariya smiled bitterly.
“Agreed. Alshi, are you hungry?”
“My stomach hurts, more than it feels hungry. Because of a certain someone.”
Ariya and Alshi’s line of sight both went towards that certain someone. Roroa snapped back at them.
“Wan. My body also hurts because of a certain two people, wan!”
“Do you want to be in even more pain?”
“Weren’t we even now!?”
“Fair Grace never said anything like that.”
“Yujin, wan! Yujin! Double jeopardy! I heard that the concept of double jeopardy exists in your world as well, wan!”
I lowered Sii from my lap and stood up.
“Let’s go eat. Alshi, Roroa, I’ll make you two some nutritious porridge.”
A few days later.
Although a fairly massive incident had occurred, nothing on the surface changed. It was too soon to use the pretext of assisting the investigation as an excuse to not do maid work. The total amount of work everyone had to do was slowly starting to increase as we had to make preparations in order to receive the guests that were going to arrive in the near future. If anything, I had to work even harder now in order to block any of the complaints that could go to Sii since she was still only capable of handling simple tasks.
Sii was also aware that I had no other choice but to split apart my sleeping schedule in order to work. One day, when I woke up at dawn and was about to leave, she spoke to me.
“Yujin! Don’t overwork!”
“It’s okay. I endured a schedule much harder than this back when I was attending school.”
“Still, you’re working too much! My arm doesn’t hurt as much anymore, so me as well. Yeah, if I work a little more······.”
“I’ll be mad.”
I responded a bit firmly. Sii appeared as if she wanted to protest, but she dropped her head once she saw my face.
Ariya, who was about to leave with me, spoke up.
“What you need to focus on is making sure your arm gets better.”
“Uuu······ I’ll try to get better quickly.”
“There’s no need for it to be done ‘quickly’. Just do it with ‘certainty’.”
After Sii nodded her head, Ariya and I left to work.
While working like that, several changes had occurred. Several of these changes were what I had been aiming for.
“Once I’m discharged from here, I want to live together, with you all.”
Alshi had said this while still laying on top of the bed in the infirmary. This was an obvious sequence and something which Ariya had been looking forward to.
“That’s okay, right? Yujin. I already passed that ‘interview’ at that time after all.”
Alshi asked while folding her arms. I nodded my head without any hesitation.
“Of course I’d welcome you. You would as well, right, Miss Sii?”
“······Just don’t do anything weird with Ariya.”
Sii uttered with a displeased face.
Ariya flinched but Alshi covered her mouth with her hand and smiled.
“What, do you mean by weird?”
“You know! Like embracing each other, rubbing against each other, or k-kissing. ······You’re both girls! It’s really unsightly.”
“Did you not like it when I kissed your shoe?”
Alshi purposely opened her eyes wide and asked back. Sii winced.
“Eck······ uh······ I didn’t dislike it, but t-t-that was an apologetic kiss······.”
“If I do it for a reason besides apologizing, then would you, refuse?”
In response to Alshi’s words which she had said while lowering her back to the point that her hair was flowing down and tilting her head up to look up at Sii, Sii froze in place. It seems that reaction was entertaining for her as Alshi’s smile thickened.
“What if I were to remove your shoe and do it, on the top of your foot? Would you still refuse?”
“Alshi! What are you saying!?”
Ariya uttered while gnashing her teeth. I also put my foot down.
“Teasing each other is fine, but I would like it if you were more prudent. Despite Miss Sii’s appearance, she’s a genuine sadist. If you go past the point of panic, then she’ll probably make you actually do it. Every last corner at that.”
“W-What do you mean by a genuine sadist!?”
I meant it literally.
Alshi whistled as if her fun had just been spoiled.
“Hmm. So you’re saying that she isn’t just all talk? Regardless, isn’t it somewhat amusing?”
“Are you talking about Sii’s reaction or Ariya’s reaction when she sees you do things like that?”
Alshi answered by simply smiling while sticking out her tongue. This was followed by calming down Ariya who was nearly in tears and stomping on the ground. Was this what people referred to as the populace?
“I’m a lacking and twisted person like this, but I’ll be, in your care.”
Ariya’s lover said while prettily raising the corners of her skirt.
Normally, one would have to get Sophna’s approval in order to move rooms. You could say that this was something I was reluctant to do since Sophna had marked me. That’s why I decided to take the path of directly appealing to the Earl while giving her my regular report. The Earl immediately gave her approval.
She did scold me lightly.
“Seriously, you’re a lecher, Mr. Yujin. Did you want to rub against a bunch of girls in a small room that much? Two of them are even a couple, aren’t they? This is the first time I heard that you had a thing for netori, Mr. Yujin. Heugugugu, or is it perhaps that? Do you believe that the two of them are a couple because they don’t know the touch of a man? The two lesbians who once glared at Mr. Yujin with resolute faces, in the next moment, with completely messed up faces⎯⎯⎯.”
(TL note: ‘netori’ is when the male main character does the stealing, in contrast to ‘netorare’)
It wasn’t lightly.
“She’s also a victim of an assault so I thought that the investigation would be smoother if we used the same room.” I gave an excuse like that for now. “More importantly, the room really is small now that you mention it. Can you not move us to a bigger room?”
The Silver Lion Earl’s expression became serious.
“Hm. This is also a type of pillow talk. In principle, I’m not allowed to give you a new room, but I’m also sorry for not being able to give you your salary, Mr. Yujin. I’m also sorry for not being able to give you your own personal room. All right. There should be an empty room on the third floor of the central tower.”
“Ah ha, you should be.”
Like that, we moved. Alshi was going to join us once she’s been discharged.
The rooms on the third floor of the central tower were originally created to receive honored guests. It was an absurdly wide and good place for a single squire and several maids to live in. This had also made the other maids jealous, but we were able to resolve this issue by holding a snack party which doubled as a housewarming party. The fact that Kina, who used to constantly pick fights with me, had become polite must have also helped.
I should first talk about when the Vice-captain of the guards, Ryungste, had stepped down from his position.
“I don’t have the right to raise my head before Her Excellency the Earl······. I’m at least grateful that she isn’t going to punish this old man. I guess I’ll spend my time fishing and watch my granddaughter grow up. It feels like I’m handing everything off even though it’s a busy period, so I’m sorry.”
He had already been reprimanded once, so the fact that he wasn’t present when Alshi was assaulted became the finishing blow. It appears that some people were worried that the Silver Lion Earl was going to put Ryungste on a torture rack, but I trusted the Silver Lion Earl in that regard. This wasn’t like the time when she was dealing with me, who was a being from another world, or her half-sister, Sii. She wasn’t the type of person to torture an old vassal who had been working for her since a long time ago for a reason like that.
Thus, Ryungste departed. Roroa was promoted to vice-captain. In actuality, this was similar to having become the new owner of the guards. This was enough to make her little sister, Kina, happy.
Albeit, she wouldn’t be this happy if she knew about the details.
I frequently met up with that new owner of the guards. Although I gave the excuse that it was in order to cooperate with the investigation, the real reason was to watch over her and make sure that she didn’t get any funny ideas. Thankfully, Roroa wasn’t an idiot, and since it seems like she had no desire of being killed by the Earl like a dog, nothing of concern had occurred.
If anything, I was able to enjoy these meetings. It wasn’t only because Roroa had fluffy ears. As expected, it was because Roroa wasn’t an idiot. She was well-informed and, as she had proved before, she had an outstanding information gathering and analyzing ability. Only a few days had passed, but I had already obtained substantially more information than what I had gathered until now.
“That was everything that had occurred today in the Water Dragon City, wan.”
“So there were more incidents today compared to yesterday.”
“There will be even more tomorrow, wan. Including the 271 visitors today, the total population of non-residents staying in the city has reached nearly 7,000 today, wan. If things go according to the yearly average, then the numbers will reach 10,000 around the middle of next month, wan.”
“You guards are going to have it rough, huh.”
“Wan, yup. That’s why, in truth, I don’t have the time to be idling around here like this, wan. There are some people who’ve been complaining that, despite just being a dog, I’ve been spending my time leisurely after I became the vice-captain, wan.”
“I recall seeing people who were like that the last time I visited the guard station.”
“There are things in the world that won’t disappear no matter how hard you try, wan.”
“Yeah, that’s unfortunate.”
“It’s most unfortunate for them, wan.”
Roroa flapped her ears as she laughed. For them to have clumsily made this girl into their enemy, they really were unfortunate. I predicted that Roroa will have completely conquered the entire guard station within the next few days.
And that was exactly what happened. A few days later, Roroa was making a blissfully satisfied expression when I met her again.
“Did things turn out well?”
“Very much so. It would be even better if this meeting also disappeared, wan. I’m behind on my work as well.”
“Sorry, but this is a necessary meeting. Please take care of your piled up work by working overtime.”
“My precious resting time is disappearing, wan······.”
“‘Service and sincerity is the best type of rest.’ Rixco Chidorea.”
“Did you know that, in the end, that person was stabbed to death in an alleyway, wan? They say that there were so many people who had stabbed him, that there were more than twelve different types of knives pierced into his body, wan.”
Roroa even knew about the fellow known as Rixco Chidorea whom no one knew about other than the Earl. What a smart girl.
“Waan! That tickles, wan!”
And her ears were fluffy.
However, even she didn’t know everything.
“That’s why even I don’t know what happened to Ahyeon or what had occurred back then, wan. I said so before, but at that time, I was at the very end of the stick, wan.”
It was something I was already told before. I thought that she might have been hiding something, so I tried to question her about this from all sorts of different angles, but seeing how consistent her answers were every time, she must really not know. She shot my question back to me.
“If anything, I want to ask you about it, wan. Besides me, have you asked anyone else about this, wan? For example, Her Excellency the Earl or Miss Zia. Aren’t you close to the two of them?”
“I felt like asking the Earl would be too risky. I asked Zia several times before, but she wouldn’t tell me. ‘You don’t need to know about it.’ this is what she would say before going silent.”
To be exact, her response was a bit different. ‘You mustn’t know about it’. I did try to pry further for a reason, but Zia refused to answer. After that, since the incident related to Sii had occurred and Zia had been spending her time with her teacher at the arena, I had no opportunity to ask her again.
Roroa seemed to be contemplating something as she had folded her ears down. Shortly after,
“Wan. Well, it should be fine to proceed with the investigation slowly. I’ve met you. ······And I’m also the vice-captain of the guards now, wan.”
she quietly muttered this.
Time flowed by once more.
Since Roroa and I were also people, we were bound to become weary if we talked about things only related to work all the time. Efficiency wasn’t something that could be expected when weary, so every time this happened, we would either mess around or share a light conversation. Among the topics of our small talk, we would talk about the legends of this world.
“In this world, the only nation to have survived to this very day among the many nations established by humanity, ah, the humanity here refers to the alliance of intelligent species with humans at the center, in any case, the Kingdom of the Twelve Earthly Branches was the only nation to have subsisted, wan.”
“There’s only one nation?”
“Wan, yup. Who knows though, wan? There might be some in the Rosin’ pa(Translating······ Land of fog? Faded territory? Assuming it to be ‘unexplored region’).”
“You guys didn’t explore everything yet? When the Silver Lion Earl mentioned the Alchemy Fortress, she said that they had ‘vaccines for almost every pathogen in the world’.”
“Things that occur in a place that cannot be seen is the same as having never occurred at all, wan. The Alchemy Fortress has no reason to care about any of the diseases that circulates outside the boundary of humanity, wan. They won’t make any profit, wan.”
“I guess you’re right, the Earl also mentioned that they were the ones who set the price for medicine.”
“Yup, the Kingdom of the Twelve Earthly Branches pioneers the path and it’s the duty of the Alchemy Fortress and the other eleven factions to steadily lay the foundation down on that pioneered land, wan. If you look at it from that point of view, then you could say that this Lion Palatinate is still in a gray area. Putting aside the fact that a majority of the twelve major factions don’t have a branch here, wan, this city is located west of the Kingdom of the Twelve Earthly Branches and, although the other palatinates are the same, it’s acting as a wedge that’s positioned in the center of an undeveloped land, wan.”
“Undeveloped land, unlicensed settlement, and unexplored region. These places keep being mentioned as if they’re special, but why’s that?”
“Wan. Of course, that’s because monsters live there.”
“Are the monsters······ strong?”
Roroa blinked a couple of times.
“Wan, nothing. I just remembered something that happened in the past. Mm, rather than strong, they’re evil existences, wan.”
After saying that with an expression that appeared as if she were reminiscing the distant past, she flapped her ears once I made a confused face.
“Humankind has that thing they can understand each other with, right, wan? Even if their history and culture are different, there’s still that one thing they can empathize with. For example, be it good or bad people, they acknowledge the general concept of good and bad, right, wan? However, those concepts in themselves don’t work on the majority of the monsters that live in undeveloped lands, those inhumane creatures, wan. It’s not like they aren’t intelligent. You can hold conversations with them if you learn their language, but the fact that they’re still unable to understand despite this makes them give off this sense of difference, wan.”
It might be because I was living in a world where meaningful contact with another sapient race has never been recorded, but I couldn’t understand that statement. Why aren’t they able to comprehend the concept even though a dialogue could be established? The Silver Lion Earl may be a being from another world and also a psychopath, but we were able to understand each other by talking, and even though Roroa was also a being from another world, a different race, and a sociopath, we understood each other by talking as well. Wouldn’t this in itself already be enough to prove that Ludwig Wittgenstein was wrong?
Was it simply discrimination? Protecting their territory? In the past, Westerners were referred to as Semu or Red-haired ghosts in China and were treated as monsters. Westerners had also treated the Native Americans as trash, claiming that they had crossbred with demons and beasts. The harmful consequences of ignorance were larger than the harmful consequences that came from weapons.
Roroa tilted her head at my assumption.
“People are already handling that sort of discrimination well, wan. Even now, people call me dog or dagger-teeth, wan. Humans and monsters are different in a truly intrinsic sense. Wan. Just that alone is already a problem, but there’s also another issue.”
“What is it?”
“The fact that if you reside within these monsters’ territory for too long, then even humans can be contaminated and this will make them start behaving bizarrely, wan. Do you remember the unlicensed pioneer village I talked about a while back, wan?”
“Monster, elderly, womb?”
“Yes, that. There are many occasions where the majority of the people who live in remote locations have those sorts of eccentric customs or traditions. Unlicensed pioneer villages are the prime examples, wan. The Cat Palatinate that is located on the very border of the kingdom’s domain is somewhat similar in that sense, wan.”
Although I felt as if it was like that because universal discrimination had combined with a small society, since there would be no end if I were to argue like that, I decided to type down our entire conversation onto my iPad. Roroa flapped her ears.
“Wan. That’s handy. I want one, wan.”
I adjusted my glasses.
“Personally, I envy that sacred blessing ability of yours.”
“Wan! It is indeed a good ability. All Saber-Fangs know how to use it, wan. Albeit, there aren’t that many who know how to use it properly, wan. That doesn’t change the fact that I still want wan.”
“Wait. I’ll get you one when I go back to Korea.”
“I’ll be looking forward to it, wan. Oh right, speaking of Korea, I did what you asked me to do before.”
As she said that, Roroa handed my iPhone to me. It was the iPhone I had handed to her several days ago. I had made her go and take pictures of the places I couldn’t enter, the places I weren’t allowed to enter, and the places that I couldn’t let myself be spotted in.
I immediately opened the gallery. I skimmed through the images for a moment before my eyes stopped on a single image.
Roroa carefully opened her mouth.
“Wan. What will you do about it? Should I bring it to you, wan?”
I shook my head.
“Leave it be.”
“Aren’t you being too cautious, wan? Her Excellency the Earl has been leaving it alone, but······.”
I calculated with my empty hand while copying the images and sending them to my iPad. If I ask a favor of Sei when I go this time and receive it the next time I go, then I’ll be able to do something about the subject of this photo on the trip after that. The process of breaching the lock will be needed, so approaching the contents of it will have to be done on the trip after that······. In this regard, it’s true that this is going to take a long time.
“I can’t take the risk.”
Roroa let out a whine. I gave an explanation.
“The Earl might not care about it, but there’s another person watching me, isn’t there?”
“Do you mean Miss Sophna?”
“At the very least, let’s not do stuff that can cause trouble.”
Although in reality, even though she had said ‘I will be watching’, she never appeared after that. In that regard, Roroa said this.
“It’s because of the central water source, wan.”
Following that line, Roroa utilized her sacred blessing and went on to give this complex explanation, but in summary⎯⎯⎯.
“She’s blocking the volcanic activity underground?”
“Wan, that’s right. Every year, it becomes active during this time. She goes to the central water source and uses the water power there in order to lessen the pressure, wan.”
Since she had to use the water during this process, that was the reason why the flow of water during this period of the year would become weak. However, there was something else that was on my mind.
“What happens if she’s unable to block the volcanic activity?”
“What do you mean, wan? It’ll obviously erupt.”
I felt taken aback.
“Do you not feel anxious by the fact that there are over 20,000 people living in a city that could explode if a single person were to mess up?”
“Aren’t societies all like that, wan? Ahyeon said that your people live like that in your world as well, wan.”
It was a wise answer to a silly question.
Situations, where people would simply look on while there’s a construction that could fall apart if a certain person didn’t do their best were common. Something like making two people manage the boiler room of a building on a rotation. If a large incident occurs, then people would make snobbish remarks like ‘it was a fated calamity’. Even modern Earth, with its developed civilization and mature society, was like that as well. To the people who didn’t receive the bomb, regardless of who the bomb went to, it was always nothing more than someone else’s business.
I went into deep thought. Roroa must have misunderstood my silence as she elaborated on her explanation.
“Normal people don’t know about this in the first place, wan. Moreover, people who do know about it don’t care. Miss Sophna is a splendid mage.”
There was a sense of trust in those words. If this snake with dog ears was capable of saying this, then that meant Sophna was undoubtedly an amazing mage.
The issue was that that amazing mage was being hostile towards me. She’s busy with restraining the volcano right now, but once she’s finished, she’ll probably come up to the castle. In that regard, Roroa offered this prediction.
“The thing is, she’s been staying down there longer than usual, and continuously at that, wan. Normally, she would have come up earlier than this, so I assume the volcano is more active this year, wan. Regardless, she’ll probably come up within the next few days, wan.”
As expected, her prediction was right. A few days after that conversation, to be exact, in the last week of the second month, when I went to give my regular report to the Earl, Sophna was there as well.
TL note: Thanks for reading the chapter. I’m realizing that this is taking a lot more time because they’ve been doing a lot of explaining in the past 2 chapters. Normally, I’m able to translate fast whenever I feel hyped for something, but it’s hard to feel hyped for expositions. In any case, these chapters are short anyway, so it doesn’t bother me much.
I’ll see you guys in the next chapter.