Translator: Denryuu; Editor: Ryunakama
I followed Meiri and her entourage to the castle.
「Will you convince my mom, Roland?」, asked Meiri, looking up at me while hugging her new pet.
「I can try to ‘convince’ her, but I doubt she’ll really be opposed to one tsunorabi.」
I had a feeling that Leyte doted heavily on Meiri. After all, she’s the only daughter who survived the war. As I replied, though, Luno shook her head.
「No, Roland-sama. Her Majesty does not pamper Alias-sama.」
「Is that so?」
We walked down a long corridor, passing by a large space known as the ‘Throne Area’ before reaching Leyte’s private chambers. Meiri knocked on the door, telling her what had happened.
「Please return it. We do not treat lives lightly」, replied a sharp voice from behind the door.
Her expression darkening, Meiri looked at me. My turn, I guess.
「Leyte-sama. It’s me, Roland.」
「Ara, Roland-san’s here as well? If that’s the case, then please enter.」
The door opened, revealing Leyte. Luno and the knights bowed and left. Upon entering, the queen guided us to her sofa on which we sat down. Leyte’s private chambers contained only a canopied bed, a table and a few chairs, indicating just how frugal a life she was leading.
「Come here, Roland! It’s softer here!」, exclaimed Meiri, thumping the bed that she had just sat down on.
「Alias! That is not a place to sit.」
Looking crestfallen, she darted behind my back to hide from her.
「Using Roland-san as a shield… fine. I see that it’s a rabbit this time?」, sighed the queen.
「Yes. She’s already brought back a cat, a dog, a bird, and more…」
「Ah. If she were to actually try taking care of one, though, wouldn’t she realise just how difficult it is to do so?」
「That’s only if she does. She’ll leave most of the work to her attendants and only feed it from time to time」, said Leyte, intentionally craning her neck to look behind me.
「But… I will! I will clean rabbit-chan’s house, give it water, take it for walkies and feed it… it’ll be like a child to me!」
I don’t think you need to take a tsunorabi for walkies…
Having only killed them, I had no experience keeping them as pets either, though.
「You’re an adventurer, aren’t you, Alias? You go to work in the morning and return in the evening. Who will take care of the rabbit when you’re away?」
「Then Luno will be its owner, not you. Also, that rabbit has horns. It’s a monster, isn’t it?」, inquired Leyte, raising an eyebrow.
「Yes. While they look like horns, they’re rather short and pose even less of a threat than something like a dog bite.」
Luno was right — the queen had no intention of indulging her daughter.
「This is what I’ve been telling Alias the whole time. If she can’t care for it all on her own, then I won’t let her own it.」
「But, Mom…! You baka! Roland gave the rabbit-chan to me! I have to keep it!」
「I know no daughter who calls her own mother a baka. Get out.」
I glanced behind me and saw Meiri with tears in her eyes. Pouting and sniffling, she was about to burst into tears at a moment’s notice.
「Leyte-sama, since she has not had a chance to do so, we don’t know how well she’ll take care of it. Meiri… no, Alias has a stronger will than you believe. She still keeps up her training to this day. I believe we should give her one chance. I will allow her to put her adventuring duties on hold for the time being.」
Conflicted, Leyte closed her eyes.
「I’ve told Mother before that I want a brother or a sister, but she won’t give me one at all!」
「Alias」, her mother started angrily.
「She kept telling me ‘later’, but never got around to it!」
Well, I get it now.
「Leyte-sama, it appears that Alias wants a family of her own. Even if it’s a pet.」
With a huge sigh, the queen shook her head slowly in surrender.
「Fine. I’ll allow it.」
「But if I feel that Alias isn’t taking proper care of it, then I will return it to the wild without a second thought. Is that fair?」
「Yes! Thank you, Roland! Thank you, Mother!」, exclaimed Meiri with already one foot out the door.
「She seems overjoyed」, I commented after she had left.
「I really hope she’ll take good care of it」, said Leyte, smiling bitterly as she came to sit beside me.
「To Roland-san, she might seem like a strong-willed child, but to me, she’s a girl that wants to be spoiled. She’s a handful for everyone in the castle.」
「She might be more well-behaved if she had a younger sibling.」
「Hmm. Now that you’ve said it, I think you hit the nail on the head. I now understand why Alias behaves like she does.」
Calling for a servant, two cups of black tea were served. I’m still on the job, I said, allowing myself only one cup.
「I have my own sources of information, but I’ve heard rumours that some are trying to help another monarch ascend the throne. Instead of ceding power to a national congress, many powerful people wish to control the entire nation on their own, and I don’t really know why.」
A queen and a mother at the same time, the burden on her shoulders was unimaginable. My dialogues with King Randolph had also taught me that power struggles are never easy to deal with.
「Have you heard of an association known as Welger & Co.?」
「On multiple occasions. A lot of merchants in our country operate under that name.」
「There’s a good chance that they’re doing shady things behind the scenes, so please be wary of them. They may have a hand in this political upheaval you’re talking about.」
I only knew for sure about the Grey Wolf business, but if they’re involved in other ventures as well, I’ll probably hear about them from Dee soon. What kind of association they are, how large their scale is, their enemies, their friends, and so on…
It isn’t wise to move forward without a thorough understanding of what we’re up against — that’s why we need a mole that can gather information and pass it along to us.
「Will Roland-san come to help me if I’m in danger…?」
「It would be ideal for such a situation to never arise, but if it does, then of course.」
「Ufufu. I know it’s part of your job, but it nevertheless makes me happy to hear that.」
Wrapping her arms around mine, she stroked my knee and looked at me.
「Remember what I said a while ago? That wasn’t really a joke. Alias has always said that she wants a younger sibling.」
As I was figuring out what to say, she kissed me.
「Do you hate unrefined women?」
Hearing that from the queen herself, I figured that it would be rude to turn her down at this point. I got onto my feet and scooped Leyte up as if I was carrying a princess.
「– Kya. L-Let me down, I’m heavy.」
「No, Leyte-sama is light.」
「You can forgo the ‘-sama’ when we’re alone… just drop the honorifics entirely…」
She held tightly onto me, and I carried her all the way to the canopied bed. She drew the curtains, making the interior dimmer. As she had made the first move, Leyte’s face was red. She whispered nervously:
「I’m sorry… if I’m not to your liking. It’s been a long time…」
「You don’t have to worry. As long as you enjoy it.」