Translator: Denryuu; Editor: Ryunakama
After resolving the incident, I returned to the guild and just happened to catch the Pretty Girls’ Squad there. When I requested that they become bodyguards for Meiri, I received two different answers.
The castle became much livelier ever since.
「Listen, Roland-san… Mei-chan grabbed my tail and tried to pull it off!」, wailed Lyan, coming into my room as I was preparing to leave for work after breakfast.
As I ruffled her hair to console her, a panicked Meiri also entered.
「I-It’s not like that, Roland! I didn’t pull it! I just wanted to touch it because it was fluffy!」
「Doesn’t matter what you were trying to do. Please get along.」
The rest came to join them as it was their job to stick with the little princess. Sans, the dwarf, was the first to speak (quietly as usual).
「Mei-chan gets tired of things easily… now she’s after Lyan instead of Sako-chan.」
It seemed like ‘Sako’, a name given on a whim, had become canon.
「I’m not tired! I’m taking care of it!」
The smiling Hire wouldn’t have any of it.
「Didn’t you forget to feed it? Who do you think did it?」
Meiri suddenly looked up to face her.
「K-Keep it a secret from M-Mother… she’ll throw Sako-chan away…」
「Relax. I haven’t spoken a word to Leyte-sama.」
Patting Meiri’s head to calm her down, the leader of the squad continued.
「Aside from adventurning, you have to study hard.」
「If you don’t, then… you don’t need me to elaborate further, do you?」
Sensing the threat concealed within Hire’s smile, the little princess looked at me.
「Roland, Hire’s mean…」
「She’s not. You have to stop running away from your duties.」
「That’s right. Mei-chan can start slacking off at a moment’s notice」 , added Lyan as she popped out from behind me.
「But… Lyan always ends up playing with Sako-chan, and it’s too noisy for her to focus」, rebutted Sans.
「Quit being a nuisance to Meiri, Lyan.」
「Why did you say that? Come on, Sans, you know better than to tell on me!」
Huh. Look who’s the hypocrite here.
「Well then, it’s time for Princess Alias to study」, I said to get them to leave, to which Meiri pouted.
「You’re going to work, Roland. You won’t play with me even when you come back!」
「Fufufu. You made the lady sad」, observed Hire as Rodje and Sue looked on from outside.
「Your job now is to study.」
「But I don’t want to! I’ll study after you play with me!」
「I’ll play with you after you study.」
「Muu… fine. At least carry me to the room!」
Seeing that she wasn’t likely to make any more concessions, I acquiesced and scooped her up, keeping her in place with one hand.
「You sly fox! I want Roland-sama to carry me too!」
「I claim Roland-sama’s back」, asserted Sue calmly as she climbed onto me.
「Then the other hand is all mine」, said Hire, grabbing onto my other wrist.
「Feast your eyes upon the countenance of debauchery, Lylael-sama. Look at the lewd expression he makes when surrounded by girls… that is the true nature of a human.」
She was trying to worsen Lyla’s impression of me as always. Her master, however, yawned loudly at my feet, indicating that she couldn’t care less.
「Although I was expecting Roland-sama to be as snappy as always…」
「Sue…! How dare you, as an elf, consort with that human?」
「It doesn’t matter what species we belong to. Your values are too old-fashioned, Rodje-sama.」
Observing Sue and Rodje staring daggers at each other, I figured that they didn’t necessarily get along just because both were elves. I couldn’t be bothered to resolve their petty squabble for them, so I simply carried Meiri away, leaving the others behind.
Lyla followed us into the room.
「I think she’ll be fine, even without her bodyguards present. What can go wrong with the usakou and me around?」
I only found her confidence misplaced.
「It has found its way as a pet — you can see the fiery spirit burning within」, she continued.
「What on earth happened between the two of you?」
「That is for me to know. Rest assured that you can leave Meiri to us.」
Meiri came to wave me off too.
「Come back soon, Roland!」
「See you, then.」
After being sent off, I walked back to the corridor and told the still-bickering bodyguards to get back to work. I walked out of the castle to find Milia and Iris waiting.
「You’re late, Roland-san! What were you doing?」
「I was babysitting.」
「Fufufu. It must be tough even for you, Roland.」
We began walking down the sloping path that would take us back to the guild. Though the upheaval in this country wouldn’t die down any time soon, I expected internal security to improve as word of the guild continued to spread.
Thinking about how the lives of the people would slowly get better, I felt like there was some purpose to our work in the long run.
Lord Barbatos Guerrera was seated alone in his office.
「Aimée… it appears that the Princess Alias abduction has failed.」
A lady appeared from behind him.
「I know. I paid good money for that too.」
「Right. Forgive me. I have a bad habit of repeating the same things to the same people.」
Moving his quill across the paper, Lord Guerrera signed the documents on his desk as the lady lifted herself onto it.
「According to Victor, the man who came to rescue her came quickly enough that it seemed like he had already known about the abduction beforehand. Also, apparently Princess Alias disappeared from the room she was being held in.」
「Disappeared? Wow, Aimée, did you kidnap a princess or a load of hot air?」
「I was certain of it being the princess… but more importantly, about the man who knew about it beforehand. We have to find a way to –」
「I find myself cringing at your excuses.」
「It is a pain to have that association in on the plot. The more people that know about it, the more likely things will get leaked. I don’t think that it failed because of me.」
「That’s absolutely correct. Most of them are empty-headed bottom feeders.」
「Not only did he come to save the princess, but he also saw through Victor’s skill within a minute. Against an unfamiliar opponent, he found the skill’s weakness while in active combat. He knows what he’s doing. Impressive, even. It would do us good to stay vigilant against him.」
The baron’s hand stopped.
「…It’s rare of you to compliment another」, he said before continuing to read the documents, ignoring the fact that the lady was seated on the same desk.
「I sent that letter as a last resort to contact him, but I guess he never read it. That makes me sad, Aimée. It was a love letter too.」
「That was regrettable indeed. You’re lucky, though, Barbatos. If I ever receive mail that turns out to be a love letter, I’ll make sure it spreads like wildfire.」
Turning a deaf ear to her, Barbatos commented to himself under his breath as he continued signing the documents.
「We can use that assassin I chose for protection, right? The ‘public safety officer’? I’ll feel safe even if he shows up, because I know he’ll protect you.」
「I’d rather you be the guard. I prefer to make the Joker work for me. After all, a ticket is useless if you don’t bring it to the venue.」
「And what of amassing the capital?」
「Not right now, but I have plans for it. If only the abduction had succeeded.」
「No use complaining about that now. As long as you have plans… but man, it was quite a shock, listening to you after a long time. Your ambition has really grown.」
「You mean crushing King Ferland? That ambition?」
「What surprised me was the scale and thoroughness of it all. You intend to control the congress of Vadenhaag and use it to support you, right? How elaborate, especially for a Ferland noble.」
「Since King Randolph is investigating and prosecuting nobles within the country, it’s a good time to establish connections with them. There are very few landlords who do not dabble in any shady activities, Aimée. Those who have reason to be prosecuted are naturally quaking in their boots. If such a person gets to sit on the throne…」
「And what if he does?」
Stopping his hand again, Lord Guerrera looked up to meet Aimée’s gaze.
「I’ll get rid of him.」
「Won’t be an easy feat. They have a Heroine lurking within that castle of theirs. Not just any Heroine, but one who quite literally saved the world.」
「I know. She will be a roadblock to my goal of ‘Busting down Ferland’. I wanted to discuss this with you in person, Aimée.」
「As you know, my plan is to make the Joker work for me. It’ll be a shame to give this chance up, but it might be a difficult task to ask of you.」
「Speak your mind. It sounds interesting, so I’m all for it.」
「No more child’s play like abduction and whatnot. I want you to slay the Heroine.」
「Now that’s a mission.」