16-8. Ringrande's Homecoming
Satou here. I always came back to my parents' home for obon and new year's day in my college days, but that got less and less often the moment I became a working adult.
It's not because I didn't like getting pestered about when is the wedding or getting offered to go to a marriage interview by obliging relatives. I'm telling the truth you know?
"Satou, sorry but could you please escort me back to Duchy Capital?"
"Yes, I wouldn't mind."
When I was on my way back from the castle after seeing the fake Holy Shell Mobile Armor, Lady Ringrande whom I came across in a hallway asked me that.
I was just thinking of going back to the duchy capital, so it's just right.
I had promised to attend to a tea party and a banquet so we couldn't go right away, we departed to the duchy capital on the Tourism Ministry airship the next morning.
"Satou-sama, so this is Satou-sama's personal airship."
For some reason there was another individual attached to Lady Ringrande.
It's miss Ririna, the daughter of Gururian's viceroy, who's also attending the royal academy.
"No, it doesn't belong to me as it's the Tourism Ministry's facility."
Of course, the fuel for the magic furnace, magic cores, comes from my own expense.
"Sorry about this, Satou."
Lady Ringrande said that as she boarded the ship after carrying in the Flying Wooden Horse.
"If you really feel sorry then you can just fly there with that Flying Wooden Horse."
The one who reproached Lady Ringrande with thorny words was her little sister of the same mother, Sera.
She's the the only one among Solitary Island Palace members who's going along with me this time as the other girls seem to have business in the royal capital here.
Additionally, Lady Karina is going to act as a guide in lady Soruna's capital tour.
Miss Ririna went and clung on me when the airship shifted into level flight.
Looks like she's gotten attached to me.
"Ririna-san, hugging a gentleman's arm who is not your fiance is shameless for a lady."
Sera she stepped in while smiling and peeled Miss Ririna off me.
"Ara? Sera, are you being jealous of a kid?"
Lady Ringrande teased her little sister while grinning.
"I'm not jealous! I'm just guiding her how to act like a lady."
"Hmmm, guiding huh--"
Lady Ringrande gleefully watches Sera who's desperately insisting her official stance.
Lady Ringrande's eyes met mine while she was talking, they shined like that of a cat who found its prey.
Lady Ringrande hugs my head with a mischievous look.
The ample breast cushion deformed on my chest, transmitting captivating sensation.
Sera shouted when she saw that, Miss Ririna also sounded surprised.
"Onee-sama! You're shameless!"
Lady Ringrande gleefully looks at the flaring Sera.
"Ara? Grandfather-sama told me to marry Satou you know? That means we're like fiance and fiancee now right?"
Looks like lady Ringrande who's crazy about her little sister can't help herself teasing Sera.
"Sa-Satou-sama! Is it true that you're engaged to Ringrande-sama?"
"No no, it was just a joke someone said when we were out drinking."
Miss Ririna was asking me with a desperate look, so I told her the truth.
Lady Ringrande is like an idol in Oyugock Dukedom, she's probably a fan of her too.
The small airship equipped with the latest cruising engine devised by Prof. Jahad only took half the time needed for a conventional airship to reach the duchy capital.
I ended up having to watch endless quarrels or rather, teasing, between sisters, in the whole duration of the flight though, it was a bit troublesome.
That ascetic journey finally came to an end and the airship arrived at the duchy capital to meet a grand reception sponsored by Sera's and Lady Ringrande's father, who is also the next duke.
The personnels were a bit lacking since the duke and the two glutton nobles weren't present, but I got to meet Earl Wolgock who took care of us when we first arrived at the duchy capital back then for the first time in a long while.
<TLN: If you're reading this novel at any other site than Sousetsuka.com you might be reading an unedited, uncorrected version of the novel.>
"It has been awhile Satou-san."
"Nice to meet you again, Head Miko--No, Miko Lily."
Sera and I met with the former head-miko, now a miko apprentice little girl, Lily in Tenion Temple's parlor.
After telling each other how we were doing and the matter about demon lord slayer, I got into the point.
"--Meeting with Gods?"
"Yes, I'd like to know what the gods want from humans."
Lily and Sera matched eyes.
"Haven't you heard about Sera asking the same question to God Tenion during an oracle?"
"Yes, I have."
It was during the divine punishment back then.
That oracle was--.
『Gods wish for pious prayers from people and gratitudes for their joyous life.』
But was that really all there is to it?
"Do you not believe it?"
"I believe in Lily-sama and Sera-san, but it's hard to believe that's what the gods want."
Lily and Sera looked troubled to hear my reply.
"I feel it in my journey and the Weasel Empire, unreasonableness that could be said verging on god's irrationality, I think it's in contrast to wanting prayers and gratitudes."
Even if I were to yield 100 steps and regard what was said earlier to be God Tenion's true intention, there is still a risk of an even bigger tragedy happening as long as I don't know what the [Gods] want.
"Therefore, you're thinking of meeting them?"
I gave my affirmation to Lily.
"Since that's what you wish for, I'd love to have it granted it, but--"
According to Lily, miko's oracle is very complex as it's like piles of images, words and meaning cobbled together, only the thing that a miko can decipher can be conveyed.
"If you want to talk with a god yourself, then there is no choice but to use 『Invoke Deity』 to let a god advent into my body."
"No, the compensation for that magic is much too big."
"If it's for you and this world's sake, I don't mind giving up this soul of mine you know?"
I shake my head to answer Lily.
"Is there no other way?"
Lily contemplates with her hand on her cheek.
"Maybe with the method the ancient king used to have a dialog with a God--"
I was led by Lily to a room where the banned books of Tenion Tempel were stored.
"Here it is--looks like it's quite a difficult ceremony."
Lily muttered while looking over a banned book.
"Looks like we need some very special articles, although they're fundamentally the same with the ones for oracle ceremony."
"What kind of articles are they?"
"World Tree Sap, World Tree Leaf, and Philosopher's Stone--they might be everywhere during the era of ancient king, but every one of them isn't something you can get hold of easily."
Lily looks up at me with a profound look on her face.
"I have those with me here."
"Ufufu, you really are amazing."
Lily took the material while smiling broadly.
She turns her gaze to Sera while putting them on a table.
"The ceremony needs Prayer magic you see. If Sera can recite it, can I leave it to you?"
"I have never tried using the magic, but I believe I can do it."
"If you aren't sure, I don't mind using it myself, but--"
Lily whispered something to Sera with a mischievous look on her face.
I turned off the Attentive Ears skill since that seemed to be a secret.
"M-Me and Satou-san, doing such a thing!"
"Sera, he'll hear you if you're too loud you know?"
"Eh? U-umm, err--"
Sera who was teased by Lily stuttered while turning red.
It's rare to see that expression on her, she looks quite cute.
The two had a private talk for a while and then Lily said, "I'd like three day time to let Sera learn the ceremony", so I readily gave my consent.
Not like there's any impending crisis looming anyway, no problem with it.
"Do I not need to do anything?"
"Yes well, I think you'd only need to wear ceremonial clothes and take a bath in a purification ceremony with cold water in the morning of the ceremony day?"
Thus, I'm gonna spend the three day time until the appointed day by visiting my acquaintances.
Kuro and Nanashi aside, I haven't visited the duchy capital as Satou a lot after all.
"--Satou, where's Sera?"
"She's investigating something in Tenion Temple."
I got caught by a bored looking Lady Ringrande when I returned to the duke's castle.
She's wearing a light knight outfit today.
"Then you'll be going on a date with me. Let's go have some fun in duchy capital!"
Not sure how it came to this, but apparently I'll have to accompany Lady Ringrande killing time.
We're both wearing recognition inhibition items since it'll be bad if either of our identities get known.
"Look look! There's Pendragon Bun and Pendragon Kitchen Knife!"
Lady Ringrande was in high spirits while pointing at the items on stalls.
She probably finds it interesting to see me getting embarrassed.
"If you're going there, aren't they selling Ringrande Dolls and Portraits too."
Or rather, there's a lot more of those.
Dolls aside, I wonder if it's alright for them to sell portraits of a duke's daughter as a commodity, but since they're selling it openly, duke Oyugock himself has probably given them his permission.
"They've been selling those since ages ago, so it's fine! Forget about that, I wonder what they're selling over there!"
Even though she brought the subject herself, she tried to get it off the moment it involved her, then she brought me to a stall afar.
"They smell kinda weird don't they?"
"Well they're pickles."
Lady Ringrande sniffed at a place where pickled jars were lined up.
Pickles that come out in a noble dining table have been preprocessed so they won't smell, that's probably why she finds this weird.
"Aunty, you forgot something."
"Oh my? Are you running an errand today?"
"Un, Futsuna asked me. I'm starving here. Gimme some Kuhanou pickle pleasee."
I passed by a girl I met before.
"Uuun, it's nothing. He just looks like someone I know."
The girl whose eyes met mine raised her eyebrows as if she was recalling something even though I had the inhibition recognition item on, but she immediately yielded to her appetite and began sampling the pickles.
Urged by Lady Ringrande, I followed along the road and arrived at the port.
I can see the port branch of Echigoya firm slightly afar.
Sealkin children who have just entered into apprenticeship are working here and there near the entrance.
"Un, the port really is nice."
Lady Ringrande stretches herself on top of the great river while basking on the wind.
Her pulled tight clothes look quite attractive.
A gust of wind blew her veil--and ran off with the recognition inhibition item.
"I see Ringrande-sama over there!"
As expected of a local celebrity.
Even though I immediately gave her back her veil, her identity still got widely circulated in an instant.
People calling [Ringrande] broke out in no time.
"Satou, let's get back to duchy castle separately."
After saying that, Lady Ringrande used the assistance of wind magic to leap onto a roof.
A crowd was also coming for me, but I managed to slip out using short-distance [Ground Shrink].
Let's go see the sealkin children while I'm at it.
"How is it going?"
I told them that I would bring Nana here next time and gave the two some candy.
While I was listening to their present situation, other young apprentices from the branch office had gathered, so I presented them with candy while telling them to, "Get along well with these kids okay."
They seem to be doing well already from what they told me though.
And when I got back to the duchy castle, I ended up having to instruct the duchy knights in swords together with Lady Ringrande.
The swordsmanship lesson was going relatively peaceful until--
"Which one is stronger between Demon Lord Slayer-dono and Ringrande-sama?"
The place became tense with those few words from an apprentice knight.
"Of course Ringrande-sama is stronger."
"Ara, I wonder about that?"
Lady Ringrande threw a doubt back at my words.
"Didn't you beat Heim-dono the other day? You might be already stronger than me now."
Lady Ringrande licked her lips while smiling like a carnivore who found her prey.
How do I say this, she really looks carnivorous.
"Let's test it out. You're not going to say not are you?"
"Guess I've got no choice."
Lady Ringrande stopped me when I was going to take a training wooden sword.
"Wait, let's fight with real swords."
"It's fine, we have a high priest here, and there's always mid-grade potions ready."
--H-Hold it right there!
You already assumed that someone would get hurt?!
She seems to read my unrest, Lady Ringrande has the same expression like when she's teasing Sera.
"Ufufu, if you can win against me, I'll do just as grandfather-sama said and become Satou's wife.
As I dropped my shoulders in my mind, the surrounding duchy knights and merchants were surprised to hear Lady Ringrande's controversial statement and clamored enough to hurt one's ears.
Some asked whether she was telling the truth, but Lady Ringrande only smiled and didn't answer back.
"Here I go!"
With the fairy sword, I blocked Lady Ringrande who threw a stab while using Flickering Movement.
My ears that are on guard for her kick hear a chant.
"■■ Quick Burst"
I strike and crush the lesser explosion magic with my palm to avoid a direct hit.
Lady Ringrande's curled up her lips in the corner of my view.
Her bare left hand clad in red light approaches.
I strengthen my pivotal leg and jumps up from an unnatural stance.
Lady Ringrande rotated her body as if dancing as her magic sword sprung up like a bird of prey.
I intercept her sword with my fairy sword clad in Magic Edge.
Metallic sounds resounded along with scattering red light.
"■■ Quick Burst"
We're too close.
At this rate, Lady Ringrande will be engulfed in the explosion magic.
I let go of the fairy sword, catch Lady Ringrande's wrist and slip myself into the explosion magic.
An explosive sound.
And an impact on my back.
I had no injury since I put on Magic Armor on my back right before the impact hit, but the blast threw me and Lady Ringrande onto the training ground.
"You're really reckless."
"That's my line."
Lady Ringrande whispered under my arm.
There's a dagger clad in red light in her hand, thrust before my neck.
My bride candidate will increase if I win this, so this is just right.
"I give up."
When I declared so like getting a windfall, Lady Ringrande pinched my cheeks.
"That didn't feel like my win somehow. Wanna have another go?"
I shook my head to Lady Ringrande's suggestion, afterward, any duchy knights who wanted to have a match with me or Lady Ringrande got their wish.
The muscle brain knights who kept coming to me even after I beat them one after another was quite troublesome.
But well, the drinking bout afterward was quite fun though.
※ Next update is scheduled for 8/13.
※ Sera's conversation with God Tenion is in [15-33. Golden Knights' Deployment (1)].