48: Reunion of parent and child

I finished the audience with the king and was walking through a hallway in the castle.
I headed to Celica who was waiting in a separate room.

Then, Etoile, who was walking next to me spoke.
"Keika-sama, tonight, I'm thinking about going to see my nanny"
"Is she nearby?"
"She works and lives at the castle, so...ehm.. "
"What is it?"
"-- Won't.. you come with me?"

I squinted and glared at her.
She shrunk under my stare. Her showy dress wrinkled when she grabbed it.
"You have to do it yourself. Alone."
"O, Of course. I mustn't rely on others. Excuse me."
She bowed and her red hair swings, then she walks towards the back of the castle.

I enter another room. It's about the size of a conference room.
It's plain unlike a reception room and Lionel and Fal are sitting at a four-seat table in the corner of the room while drinking tea.
Lapisia is sitting on the floor and holds the black egg. She rubs is at her cheeks and talks to it, but I can't understand it.

I approached the table.
Celica smiles over her whole face.
"Welcome back, Keika-sama. What did you talk about?"
"I've got a direct request from the king. To defeat an underling of the Demon Lord"
"If it's you, you can defeat any opponent, Keika-sama"
"If it would be like that, but..."

I looked a Fal in her habit. She holds a tea cup in her hands.
"Fal, listen to me"
"Yes? What is it?"
"The target of subjugation is Leo. Your brother."
Fal's brown and bright eyes are so wide open that they make perfect circles and her movements petrified.

I speak like I'm remonstrating.
"The demons that attacked the capital escaped with him. Because it was concluded that the demons moved with the purpose to save Leo, he seems to be without a doubt an underling of the Demon Lord."
"Su, Such a... brother is"
She looks like she is about to drop the cup, but Lionel, who sits beside her, quickly takes it and puts it on the table.
-- He's an attentive child.

"This is a decision of the country. It can't be changed anymore."
Just when I thought that tears were floating in her brown eyes, she sniffed and began to cry.
The room was filled with a heavy atmosphere.

Celica quietly asked.
"So, what do you plan to do?"
"First we'll gather some intelligence to find out where he escaped to. Also we'll bring Lionel to Kynmerick's inn. And Fal... shall I send you to the village?"
Fal nods while crying.
"Yes... I'll do what you think is best, Keika-sama"

To change the pace, I clap with my hands.
"Okay. Well then, we'll head to the shop. We'll talk to the soldiers along the way. Please lend me a hand"
"""Understood""" ""Alright""

We leave the room and walk in the hallway.
We listen to the knights and soldiers.
However, we didn't hear anything of importance so far.
We discuss the scale of the demon's attack and the direction they escaped to.
Luckily, we were able to meet the prison guard next and heard him out.

After we left the castle, we spoke to the people in the city.

We combine the information we have gathered so far.
The demons attacked from the north and the south.
Then Leo was taken out of the prison by a shadow in the shape of a person.
The guard said that he must have been a demon, because he was knocked down with a magic that he has never seen seen before.

When Leo escaped from the capital, the group of demons fled in all directions.
Therefore, it seems that it's unknown where he headed.
There seemed to be a smart commander who could hide his traces.
-- This is troubling.
I can't look for him if I don't know the direction he escaped into.

By the way, my popularity went down a bit because I was not at the capital at the time of the attack.
Damn--, Leo... . What if my believers decrease.
He'll have to take responsibility.


We arrived at Kynmerick's inn.
Because it was late in the afternoon, Kynmerick was very busy in the kitchen behind the counter.

As we entered the tavern, Minya absent-mindedly whispered.
"can't he at least sweep a little..."
"Well, it can't be helped-- Kynmerick, it's been a while"

Kynmerick comes rushing out after hearing my voice.
"Oh! Keika-sama----! Minya!"
Kynmerick practically jumped Minya hugging her.

Minya unexpectedly frowns.
"I'll get dirty. The oil stains will dirty my clothes"
"That's life! You left without telling me! You can't even think how worried I was!"
Minya wordlessly casts her eyes downward.

I was astounded an spoke.
"Minya, have you forgotten your promise?"
"What is it!?"
"I left without your permission... I'm sorry."
"-- If you apologize, it's fine. The most important thing is that you safely returned."
Kynmerick stroked Minya's head with his huge hand.
Minya frowns like it's unpleasant, but her black tail swings joyfully.

--Ah, this might be the rebellious phase.
I thought such a thing.

Kynmerick calmed down after a while and looked at Minya.
"But, you've really changed a lot. Your face is imposing, and the clothes... they resemble Keika's, don't they?"
"Yup. I became strong. And I became... Keika's important person"
"Wh, what!? Is this true!?"
"I was touched at various places... it's a really important relationship"
"Whaaat! You went this far before marriage!"
Kynmerick glares at me with a complicated face mixed with anger and surprise.

I hastily denied it.
"Wa, wait a moment. The insufficient explanations are starting again! This will be troublesome! ...Sure, Minya is important. But..."

I choked on my words.
If I'd say "I only changed her job and made her into a Miko to worship me", am I not practically saying that I am a god?

Then, I breathe in.
-- Because Minya is aware that I am a god and that it can't be told to people, it's no wonder that it'll become an insufficient explanation.

This had become like a quarrel with Celica before, but she didn't say it in a strange way on purpose.
She can't hardly say "I offer dances of worship for Keika-sama, the god I believe in".
Minya thinks about me in her own way and tries to cherish me.
I felt a clumsy but deep affection. My chest got hot.

Despite she is thinking about me this far, it would be insincere to dodge it.

Minya peeks over at me with her black eyes.
I nodded once and face Kynmerick earnestly.
"Sorry, Kynmerick. Just like Minya says, we have an important relationship. I think I'd like to have her by my side from now on as well. She won't be inconvenienced."
"Can you make her happy?"
"We are currently traveling, but yes, definitely"

Kynmerick gazed at me. Then he breathed a sigh.
"...Is that so. In that case, I won't say anything anymore. It's something that my daughter decided by herself."
"I'm indebted to you, Kynmerick"
"Thank you, Dad"
Minya hugged him tightly. She seems to put in quite a lot of strength and I heard a crunchy sound of bones.

"Ugh...di, didn't you really get strong... I'm glad to leave you to Keika... but?"
"What is it?"

Kynmerick looks sideways. Celica who was next to me was about to cry.
"Uuu... Keika-sama... what about me...?"
"You are obviously also important. Just like Minya"
"*sniff*, I'll believe you. Keika-sama...au"
I stroked her head and pulled her body close. Her delicate softness transmitted through the clothes.

Lapisia, who was hugging the egg, came to my side.
"Ah, you are of course important as well, Lapisia"
She spins around while holding the egg. Luckily, children are simple.

Kynmerick looked sullen but he shook his head.
"Well, great men have great fondness for the sensual pleasures. It can't be helped"
"Sorry, Kynmerick, I have a favor to ask."
"Sure, I'll listen to any wish you have, Keika."
"Do you have enough hands? I want Lionel to work here"

When he introduced himself, Lionel took a step forward and lowered his head. His blonde hair is gently swaying.
"I am Lionel and I come from the port town Doruas. Please take care of me."
"The work here is tough. Can you do it?"
Minya glares up at her father when he says this.
"... When even you can do, there's no problem, right, father?"
"Ugu...! N, Now you're saying this to me... Understood, let's try it."

"You're helping me there. As expected of you, Kynmerick"
"Thank you very much, Kynmerick-san"
"Alright. So first you should memorize how we record our hotel register. Come this way."
Lionel followed after Kynmerick. When he entered the counter, Lionel bowed to me and smiled.
Yup, give it your best.

Minya comes with the keys from the counter.
"I'll guide you to the room"
"Fal is in another room"
Minya takes the lead and starts walking.

Then Fal speaks to me with a thoughtful expression.
"Ehm... I'd like to talk to you later, Hero-sama"
It's probably about Leo.

I nod in response.
"Yes... You're probably tired from the trip. We'll talk after we had dinner and took some rest."
Fal lowered her head. The veil of her habit swayed.

Then we headed to the rooms.
We were guided to a room on the second floor facing south with a large bed.
Fal went to the room next to it.

I put down the luggage and sit on the bed.
Celica sat next to me.
Lapisia sits on a chair and permanently watches the egg.

Celica speaks.
"We still don't know where Leo headed. I thought we simply had to follow the route of the demons."
"After they separated, they most likely either met up somewhere and then escaped or went individually to the gathering point."

I used "Clairvoyance" to look around the capital.
I didn't see any suspicious demons.

At that time, the royal castle caught my eyes.
-- What happened to Etoile, who said that she would see her nanny?

I was a little worried, so I looked for her. I also invoked "Attentive Ears".
Because of her characteristic presence and the sound of her footsteps, I could find her immediately.
Her dress was waving while she was aimlessly walking in front of the door to the kitchen on the ground floor.