Translator: Denryuu; Editor: Ryunakama
When I got home, I brushed past Lyla wordlessly and went straight to the living room. I picked up her collar and confirmed that the words on the inside indeed resembled those on the tortoise.
「What’s wrong?」, asked Lyla as she followed me inside.
「Let me get this straight — the incantation written here acts proportionally to the magicka that it’s sealing away?」
「That’s more or less what we believe.」
「Did something happen?」
I told her about the never-before-seen monster I had run into earlier.
「Hmm. A strange creature with words like these inscribed onto it has been appearing recently?」
「Not just one part of it, either. It was covered in them.」
「A four-eyed tortoise with a rock-hard body… nothing comes to mind.」
It’s quite rare for Lyla and I to be unable to recognise a monster when given a description of its unique features, even for more obscure ones.
「Let’s just call it an armored tortoise for now」, I decided. 「It was as large as a house, but out of all the people who enter the forest daily, only one has seen it.」
「That… probably means that the armored tortoise isn’t native to that forest.」
「I might be able to learn something from its carcass. Can I see it in person?」
I agreed and brought her back to the forest with me.
「I remember leaving it here –」, I said, looking around for the armored tortoise’s carcass.
Lyla did the same, but it was nowhere to be found.
「Where could it have gone…?」
「The smell of the blood on you is the same as the smell here」, observed Lyla. 「This has to be the spot.」
Even having to look for something that big is almost laughable, I thought.
「If it isn’t here, it can’t possibly be hiding anywhere else. That means…」
「Someone removed it?」
It’s not something that can be easily spirited away too. Whoever did it must have done so by magic or otherwise. If the words that had been on the tortoise were the same language as those on Lyla’s collar, then it might have something to do with Warwick.
And it’s not the only strange monster to have been spotted around these parts. I could always turn the whole thing into a quest and make adventurers do the heavy lifting, but if the rest turn out to be inscribed with those letters as well, then it would be a big clue for us. I’ll leave them be for now in the hope that we find out where they come from — be they someone’s pets, mutated creatures or the like. We can always get rid of them later.
「I’ll spawn a ‘Shadow’.」
「Hmph. I was the one who taught you.」
Magicka swelled from her chest as she activated ‘Shadow’.
A shadow about the size of a small dog appeared. While mine looked like little boys, Lyla’s had the curves of a girl. Lyla’s shadow did a little dance around me, then tried to rub itself on my leg.
「H-Hey, what are you doing? Stop that!」
She hurriedly peeled it away from me by the scruff of its neck before tossing it deeper into the forest. It disappeared into the thicket almost instantly.
「It’ll prowl the area and inform you if it sees anything.」
「Okay. Your ‘Shadows’ are a little different, aren’t they? They have curves and all.」
「That’s because, uh… they receive a tiny bit of the caster’s consciousness.」
That explains what it was trying to do just now.
「Both Dee and Rodje told me that they won’t be coming back today.」
That probably means…
「I prepared dinner in advance. How about that?」, she continued timidly, averting her gaze. 「I actually took the time to dedicate myself to that task, so it’s not like I wasn’t trying… okay?」
Though I found her nervousness unbecoming of a Demon King, I ruffled her hair with a bitter smile.
「Shall I show you the fruits of my labor?」
「If there are any.」
Her cheeks turning red, she turned around abruptly.
「Don’t regret it later.」
The next morning, I reported my findings to Iris after morning assembly.
「A monster even you’ve never heard of?」
「Yes. It could have suddenly mutated or something. That’s why I think nobody should go near that forest until we find out what’s going on.」
She swapped the positions of her criss-crossed legs and drummed on her desk with her index finger — something she often did while deep in thought.
「Let his Lordship know of this so that he can mark the forest as out of bounds.」
「Okay. Hopefully it’ll prevent any accidents from occurring.」
It would be tough for those who live off the forest, but I figured that it was better than getting hurt or losing their lives.
「I didn’t get to pass it to you yesterday, but you have a letter from the capital.」
I naturally assumed that it was from King Randolph, but changed my mind when I noticed that it was addressed to a ‘Roland-san♡’. A smile from which I was never able to discern playfulness from seriousness appeared in my mind.
Who else could it be?
Tearing the envelope open, I took the letter out.
『It’s been a while, Roland-san』, it began.
I had written Seraphin a letter regarding the collar a few days ago, so this was probably her response. She had continued by asking why I had met the other three (Rina, Elvi and Almeria) but not her and insinuating that I hated her. It was supposedly written in a joking manner, but as usual, I was unable to tell.
Not that I bothered — that part was so long that I skipped it entirely.
In short, Seraphin knew not an iota more than I did. She had supposedly ‘found it on the battlefield, brought it to someone in the know and learnt its effect thereafter’. As I placed the unnecessarily long letter into my breast pocket, I heard someone rapping on the window and looked in that direction to find Lyla’s ‘Shadow’ trying to throw rocks at the window.
The next rock it was about to throw was probably large enough to shatter the window entirely.
『Target spotted』, spoke the ‘Shadow’ in Lyla’s voice.
「Isn’t that Lyla-chan’s voice?」, said Iris from behind me.
「You can talk?」
『What do you take me for?』
The ‘Shadow’ guffawed loudly. Lyla had ended up being the one who regretted tasting her own cooking. She had spent the entire night drifting in and out of consciousness, but seemed to be more or less okay now.
『Using the ‘Shadow’s limited field of vision, I saw some lizard-like monster. Never seen it before.』
「Got it. Let’s go.」
『It’s staying vigilant. I would too, given what happened yesterday. But anyway, I can’t get near it.』
If only they belonged to the same owner.
『Tarry some more, and it’ll get away.』
「And who are you talking to?」
I stepped out the door. Iris, who could tell what was going on, waved at me from the window.