Chapter 202: To be a friend


Translator: Denryuu; Editor: Ryunakama


「Wow, you’ve time to come here?」

That was the greeting Elvi received when she arrived at the orphanage.

「Not really. But I’m running errands around here anyway. I heard that Rina’s here, so I decided to drop by.」

「That’s called having time」, replied Almeria placidly despite the smile that had crept onto her face.「That room over there is empty. Wait a little for me, will you?」

Elvi made her way there and waited patiently for Almeria and Rina to come. Seraphin was also expected, though she had yet to arrive. The room had been furnished to look like a reception room — there was a work desk, an old sofa that could fit three people, a low table made of wood and other miscellaneous furniture. Light streamed through a window, from which she could see children frolicking about.

So this is how the Heroine spends her free time, thought Elvi as she listened to the occasional wails from the children outside.

The three ladies arrived soon after.

「Is this a reunion?」, said Almeria.

「But there’s one very, very, very important person missing, isn’t there?」, replied Seraphin playfully.

「Roland’s coming?」, asked Rina to nobody in particular.

Almeria immediately asked the question that was on everyone’s minds, just as she had always done during the war.

「You’re a big girl now, aren’t you, El? Commander of the cavalry, right? How did you find the time to come to a place like this?」

She leaned on the table, waiting for a response.

「I want to catch up.」

「Oh, I know what ulterior motive you have!」, said Seraphin, as sharp as ever.

The High Priest plopped herself down on the sofa, patting her knees so that Rina would sit on her lap. She was ignored, however, and the young mage sat next to her instead.

「So is Roland coming? Is he?」, she asked. 「Did you invite him, Aru-chan?」

Almeria shook her head.

「Nope. I only learnt about El’s visit — and that she had invited Sera — today.」

Rina squeezed the stuffed bunny that she had taken a liking to.

「Roland…」

「Right, about Roland.」

Almeria and Seraphin knew her personality all too well, and their hardened expressions let slip that they had realised something.

「What about Roland?」, inquired Rina, surprised.

「You know that Roland’s cohabiting with someone, right?」

「Yeah. Someone called Lylael」, said Almeria after a moment’s hesitation.「We’ve talked on multiple occasions.」

「Do you know why he’s living under the same roof as a demon, then?」

「…Just what are you getting at?」

Almeria probably already knew the answer, but had decided to let Seraphin do the talking.

「Roland went off to fight the Demon King on his own, then disappeared soon after.」

Rina nodded.

「But Roland lived.」

「Yes. None of us believed that he was actually dead. We learnt in due time that he had gone into hiding to start a new life as a guild employee –」

「And he’s doing very well for himself」, summarised Elvi. 「Ta’uro-san, the Guild Master, holds him in very high regard.」

「I knew that someone as sharp as you would have smelled something fishy, Sera.」

「Anyway」, replied Elvi with a smile. 「Rina aside, I think the rest of you know what I’m talking about, so I’ll cut to the chase. The lady living with Roland is none other than the Demon King, isn’t she?」

「Ah… yeah.」

So what, said Almeria’s expression.

「I see~」, exclaimed Seraphin with a look of incredulity.

「The corpse that we found afterwards was a fake. Even so, we confirmed that it was genuine and ended the war.」

「I remember seeing that Lylael and thinking they looked alike.」

「But why didn’t you realise –?」

「Because she had no magicka. That is to say, she was not the Demon King that she used to be.」

「I handed Roland-san a collar long ago」, continued Seraphin in support of Almeria’s stance. 「Although I think it’s broken by now. It’s entirely plausible that he sealed the Demon King away.」

「The dots do line up. The last time I visited Roland, that lady wasn’t wearing her collar.」

That last part was news to both Almeria and Seraphin, who fell silent. Rina simply sat there listening to a conversation she could make neither head nor tail of.

「Roland-san wanted to know how I obtained the collar…」, mused the High Priest.

「But what do we do now? About this ‘Lylael’? Or should we say, the Demon King?」

「I think… thanks to our time in the Party, I’ve established a good amount of trust with Roland. Same goes for the rest of you, right?」, asked Elvi. 「So why would Roland trick us and spare the Demon King?」

「I can see why you’re unhappy, Elvi-san. He lied to us, vanished without a word, and let the Demon King — incapacitated or not, doesn’t matter — go.」

Elvi had been considering the possibility that Roland was executing his own flavour of justice and trying to make her change her ways. But Seraphin could be right, she thought.

「She’s no longer incapacitated. I saw that for myself.」

「Look beyond the surface, El」, said Almeria, trying to calm Elvi down.

For some reason, the princess suddenly recalled why they had gotten along — because their circumstances had been similar.

「Lylael has Roland on her side now, which is the greatest obstacle possible. She may have been the Demon King, but the past is in the past.」

「I don’t know what his motive is, but doing something like this would have been unthinkable for the Roland of the past. The Demon King ruined the lives of countless people, and there’s no way the cold-hearted Roland would have spared her life. He can’t have fallen for her — that’s not like him!」

「Roland-san makes women fall for him~」, chortled Seraphin.

「We understand how you feel, El. Please, that aura… it’s unsettling.」

「And what’s wrong with that!?」

Rina jumped. Elvi’s voice had been louder than she herself had expected.

「Don’t get angry, El-chan…」

「Sorry, Rina. I’m not angry.」

The Holy Knight ruffled Rina’s hair, and allowed herself a moment of silence. Almeria spoke up before she found the right words.

「If word of this gets out」, said the princess, 「it will seem as if we — the Heroes’ Party — lied. The entire world will think that we intentionally planted a fake.」

「The war is already over, though. Isn’t that enough? Does it matter whether the corpse was real or fake if we achieved peace in the end?」

「You always have absolute trust in Roland, don’t you?」

「Listen! There’s no way any of this hasn’t gone through Roland’s head! What I’m trying to say is that he could have some far-reaching plan in mind!」

「What if he has a change of heart before seeing it to the end? He has changed, hasn’t he?」

Almeria and Seraphin entertained various thoughts, specifically their own reunions with Roland. His aura has indeed softened, they thought. What had once been sharp and fierce was now akin to a gentle ray of sunlight.

They arrived at the same conclusion separately — he had changed for the better.

「Let it go, tough girl」, said Almeria. 「It’s not something we can handle.」

「Have you been thinking that way all this time, Al? That even all of us together aren’t a match for him?」

「Uh… no, that’s not what I –」

Watching the heated exchange before her, Rina was visibly afraid.

「It’s okay, Rina-san」, coaxed Seraphin, patting her on the head.「Doesn’t this happen all the time?」

Both parties tried their best to calm down.

「Okay. Let’s not go further」, she continued after a long, uncomfortable silence. 「We can discuss this in private all we like, but without Roland-san himself, nothing will happen. We must ascertain what’s going on first — if not, wild speculation on our part will do more harm than good. That is what the Roland-san I know would say.」

The princess nodded in agreement.

「You’re right.」

「Hmm」, said Elvi. 「How will we figure out what’s actually going on?」

「Isn’t that obvious?」

Rina may not have understood the whole conversation, but nevertheless summarised it well enough.

「I want to meet Roland…」, she muttered.



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