Translator: Denryuu; Editor: Ryunakama
Milia had somehow gotten wind of the whole affair, and she came to visit me after work.
「What brings you here?」
「It’s not really a what, but a why, Roland-san」, she said, showing me the tote bags full of cooked food she had in both hands. 「I heard that you’re sheltering some special children, and… the poison Lyla-san cooks isn’t going to do them any favours」, she continued self-righteously.
Although she had taught Lyla how to cook before, those were only a handful of dishes. To her, Lyla’s cooking is probably still too unpredictable for comfort. Leaving her baggage in the living room, Milia went to the kitchen to meet Lyla.
「Hm? Why’re you here?」
「Do me a favour, Lyla-san. Even though I might not be the most qualified to do so, since I’m here, I, Milia McGuffin, would like to continue teaching you how to cook!」
「I think I’m good… this guy has no issue with my cooking whatsoever…」
「It pains me to say this, but Roland-san is able to stomach your food only because he isn’t normal!」
I’m… not ‘Normal’?
「For whatever reason, Roland looks more taken aback than I am.」
「To put it simply, your cooking isn’t suitable for ordinary humans. That’s why I want to teach you common dishes cooked by ordinary families!」
「Fine, when you put it that way…」, Lyla replied. 「There’s nothing I can’t do, after all.」
「Where do you get that confidence from…?」
When the ladies began their culinary exchange, I took a moment to recover from the shock I received earlier. After that, Rodje told me what she and Dee had gathered from the children.
The youngest was ten and the oldest sixteen. Out of the four boys and six girls, none of them had a place to return to or even stay.
「I see. We’ll get the guild to help look for people who are willing to take them in.」
Our regular clients include farmers, who would probably be more than willing to accept an extra farmhand or two. While the work isn’t easy, all the farmers I remember are kind folks, so there’s nothing to worry about.
「I also asked them how they ended up in the arena, and as expected, some slave merchant had brought them there. Perhaps he’d decided that they wouldn’t sell」, said Rodje solemnly.
As much as I hate to say it, none of them looked particularly presentable, which was almost certainly why they had had no takers.
「Oi, what next, Milia?」
「Wow… as usual, you’re learning really fast…」
The Demon King’s servant observed the scene in the kitchen with lifeless eyes.
「I never get to see that expression… Lylael-sama looks like she’s having fun.」
I guided her into the kitchen with one hand.
「Milia-san, I think this elf wants to be part of your lesson too.」
「What…? Oi! Don’t put words into my mou –」
「Sure. I’m a good teacher after all.」
Having ensured that Rodje (though mortified) had been included, I headed towards the guild and related all the events to the chief.
「Eh… so that’s what’s going on there…?」
At a loss for what to do, she twirled her hair around her fingers.
「If this involves the nobles, the guild won’t be able to do anything. Aristocrats follow their own set of laws, and sometimes are even the law in certain regions. It won’t end well for outsiders to intrude on their affairs…」
「Shall I show you the arena?」
「Well… I abhor inhumane things, but I guess I have no choice.」
Slaves absolutely conform to their masters. No matter what they are made to do, they can’t complain or say no. This is how the world works, and nobody can do anything about it.
Having their lives toyed with is a different story, however.
It will be an awkward topic to discuss with Lord Bardell. If you step into a different region, you might as well be in a different country — that’s how much authority the nobles are given. Simply speaking up against any of them can result in your name ending up in their bad books.
「I’ll let headquarters know about this. Roland… you know his Majesty personally, don’t you? I don’t think this situation can be resolved without going that high」, Iris suggested.
「Is that so? Okay, then I’ll leave the reporting to you.」
I bowed and left.
By the time I got home, dinner was ready. Our meal was much livelier than usual due to the number of guests present. In fact, we had to grab the table in the living room as well just to fit all of us. I sat with Rodje and Lyla, while Dee sat with Milia, Rina and the children.
I’ve never liked crowds, but to my surprise, I felt ‘warmth’ instead of annoyance.
Feeling that some of my magicka had been replenished, I blinked to the royal capital. Avoiding the security (which was lax as usual), I shimmied my way into King Randolph’s private chamber and found him engaging in kingly duties with one of his women-in-waiting.
「Mwah. Chu, chu, smack. Katrina –!」
「You’re acting like a spoilt child, your Majesty ♡」
「Oi. Are you a spoilt child or a king?」
「Kyaaaa!? W-Who are you?」, screamed Katrina, covering her upper body with the blanket.
「Isn’t that R-Roland’s voice!?」
「Your pastimes are disgusting as usual. Get out, woman」, I ordered, pointing at the door with my chin.
She looked at the king for permission.
「Yeah. You may leave.」
「Yes, your Majesty…」
Clutching her luxurious clothing at her chest, she trotted outside.
「Come on. Can’t you see I’m busy?」
「I apologise for intruding upon your baby making session. There’s something that I can discuss only with you, and no one else.」
「Only me… that can’t be good news, then.」
I described the entire day’s events to him.
「It appears that the guild is powerless in this case.」
「Indeed. Rina-chan’s orphanage is located in our second largest city, Imir, and is thus under the jurisdiction of the Moisander family. They’re our distant relatives.」
Even the small towns on the periphery of Imir are unusually prosperous. Imir itself contains a large port, effectively making it a key centre of commerce.
「Do you know how much of our GDP is generated by the Moisander family, Roland?」
「I don’t care. I’m not here to discuss how the kingdom is run.」
「Twenty-five percent, Roland. An entire quarter of the pie. They’re outliers even among the forty-seven lord families that we have. Without their backing, we probably wouldn’t even have been able to participate in the Human-Demon War.」
「And by that, you mean…?」
「I can’t do anything.」
「It’s easy to investigate, but that region is allowed self-governance under the leadership of the marquis known as Lukas Moisander. It’s a hard truth that outrageous things are going on under his watch. I know where you’re coming from, but… I can’t touch the Moisanders precisely because I’m the king.」
「Can you say that while looking Rina in the eye?」
「I’m sorry, Roland. You’ll have to find another way to acquire the funds.」
It’s not like a single cent will ever trickle down to Rina or the orphanage. It’ll be some landlord controlling the cash flow, along with a new principal he personally supports taking the position.
Nothing will change.
「Rina is trying to save the orphanage that raised her. She’s too innocent to know that leeches are sucking its funds dry.」
「…I can’t run a kingdom on principle alone, Roland.」
「So that means you can close both eyes about this matter?」
I received no reply, which was a reply in itself.
「This discussion didn’t take place. You told me nothing, and I heard nothing.」
「I took you for a better person, King Randolph.」
「…Look, if you plan to do anything, I know nothing about it –」
I see how it is.
「Very well. I apologise for my intrusion. Good night.」
With that, I left through the window.