12-16. Invitation to Breakfast Gathering
Satou's here. Maybe due to the fact that we could frequently send mails even to a far away place, unlike in the past, I feel that I rarely felt distant.
But, it sure is mysterious when you directly meet and various things come to be talked about.
"Grandfather asked if you'd like to have a breakfast with him."
After greeting each other, Sera cut to the chase.
It'd have been a tempting invitation if the other party were a young woman, but since the it's an old man, and an authority of a nation at that, 'breakfast' probably means more like a meeting.
Now then? The duke probably invites me to a breakfast in order to solicit me to come under his wings.
We're not only explorers who hold Mithril Plate, but there's the matter of Liza defeating the first seat of Shiga Eight Swords too, so the possibility is high.
"I am honored, but is it alright for a low ranking noble like me to be summoned to Duke-sama's breakfast?"
I can't imagine those carefree Duchy Capital nobles ostracizing me, but not all of them should think favorably of me.
People from Marquis Lloyd's and Earl Haku's faction are probably alright, but people from Earl Bobi's faction who are related with Wings of Liberty seem like they'll bear a grudge.
"It's fine you know. Because even Ane-sama approves Satou-san." <TLN: Big sister>
"--I feel honored."
By Ane-sama, she's talking about Ringrande, Hero Hayate's attendant right?
I don't remember doing anything that would make her approve me, but perhaps, she did because I won against Hero?
It's not like I can decline anyway, I tell Sera that I'll be attending the duke's breakfast gathering, and get Toruma and Karina who have been treated like air up until now to join the conversation, telling each other's situation.
"Then, you're saying that Head Miko-dono isn't feeling well?"
"No, it's not that she has fallen ill, however, she doesn't seem energetic. She rarely ever comes out of the consecration inner room, let alone the temple."
I wonder why?
Did she receive a new oracle or something?
"No the only new oracle was the one about the destruction of the newly appeared demon lord in the Labyrinth City."
Come to think of it, it should be near the time for Hero Hayato's call.
I have to ask what's happened to the demon lord that was prophesied to appear in the Weasel Kingdom.
....The are only five of them remaining isn't it?
Please don't appear all at once in the world.
I throw away that ominous thought far beyond the beyond, and add the plan [Visit Head Miko] on the Memo Pad in the Exchange Column.
I'll go visit her once the business in the Royal Capital are all over.
Toruma then speaks some strange thing, probably to change back the flow of conversation.
"According to my brother, Satou-dono is also popular in the Labyrinth City."
What's with the [Also].
Since when was I popular--No, I guess I'm relatively popular with younger girls.
"Elderly and children seem to be fond of me since a long time ago."
"My, oh Satou-san."
Sera gracefully laughs to me who replied jokingly, but Lady Karina reacts questionably.
"....It's not only little girls."
Lady Karina muttered so, it was a voice so small only me who had [Attentive Ear] skill could hear.
I see, they all looked younger from my point of view, but with this body, there were girls who were the same age and older.
"However, I heard that you were close with some foreign princess and a daughter of a noble your age?"
Toruma who couldn't read the mood like always stated such remark while ignoring Lady Karina's mood.
Even Sera waited for my reply with a serious face.
By princess, did he mean the Noja Princess, Mitia?
A same-age noble daughter, I guess it's either Zena-san or the daughter of Baronet Dyukeli?
"Both are just acquaintances I knew from a little incident. We don't have special relationships."
When I asserted so, the girls let out relieved sighs.
Lady Karina has met those girls before, so she should have known our relationship anyway.
"What, is that it. Since Satou-dono is still young, why don't you become famous as a philanderer in the high society."
Sera and Lady Karina reprimanded Toruma's crude remark.
....Say something like that only between men.
Even though we often exchanged letters, conversing like this complement subtle nuances that can't be conveyed through letters.
While Sera is telling me the state of each of the Duchy Capital's orphanage people, I also tell her about the Labyrinth City's orphanage and training school for explorers.
I tell my activities in the Labyrinth City as plainly as possible.
She's also told me the present state of the sealkin children whom Nana cared, I'll tell Nana about it later.
Still, Lady Karina is shy with strangers like always.
Even though she could talk normally with me and Toruma, she only replied with brief words like "Yes", or "That's right", when Sera talked to her, the conversation couldn't continue.
It's like she's reserved toward Sera.
Since Toruma followed up with, "Karina is shy with strangers like always huh" when that happened, Sera didn't seem offended.
After we've told each other our situations, Toruma asks about the airship incident.
As begged, I tell him about the details of the raid against Duke Bishtal, in exchange I ask about the suspicion toward Marquis Lloyd.
It seems Marquis Lloyd had willingly agreed to be inquisition-ed and proved his innocence.
I'm glad that his suspicion has been cleared, but in the end, I don't get to give him prison-present.
And then, I understood that Toruma was going to talk about Lady Karina's confession-like match just before we departed Labyrinth City, but I stopped him from condemning other's people fault, especially in front of Sera.
Instead, Toruma, who knows the Royal Capital well, is going to guide me to the hidden tourist attractions and stores in the night pleasure quarter. Of course gay bars are prohibited.
I said it implicitly, "Guiding to various kind of shops", so Lady Karina and Sera didn't notice it.
Since Sera and Toruma were invited to a diner with Duke Oyugock and the king, the enjoyable conversation was cut short, and we saw the two off.
When the two have disappeared, Lady Karina asks a puzzling question.
"Sa-Satou, do you want to take Sera-sama as your wife?"
"No, Sera-san is my friend. In the first place, a Miko can't marry unless she returns to secular life you know?"
An Oracle Miko like Sera is probably not allowed to return to secular life.
"I-is that so..."
She leaks out sexy sigh beside me.
Perhaps, she's really fallen for me?
My heart slightly thumped when I saw Lady Karina's face that looked like a maiden in love.
--This is not good.
If I don't firmly draw the line with Lady Karina, I'm afraid that I'd cross it since I'm fond of her outward appearance.
If that happens, marriage surely awaits. I have to make a restraint.
The flow of conversation is just right, I guess I'll say it.
"--The person I love is in a far away foreign country. I would never ask Sera-sama to be my wife."
Saying that Aze-san is my lover or wife would make it a lie, but [The person I love] should be barely safe.
I've been dumped many times already, but I want to love Aze-san as long as she does not dislike it. At the very least, I don't feel like getting discouraged in one or two years.
Lady Karina reflexively denied it.
I saw large drop of tears spilling from her eyes.
....Apparently, her marriage proposal when we were leaving Labyrinth City was serious.
I feel slightly guilty, my chest hurts, but giving the final words just before she enters the high society is probably good for her courtship.
While deceiving my sense of guilt with that excuse, I speak more.
"It's true you know? She's a bit older than me, but she's cute."
After hearing my utmost sweet words, Lady Karina turned her heels and ran toward her own room.
Sorry, but I cannot run after Lady Karina. I'll ask maid-head Pina or Arisa to care for her.
....Ah, it's been a while, I want to see Aze-san.
The last time we talked with Telephone was about [Sakura Dryad] and [Sakura Drop], so it feels like I haven't talked to her for a long time.
--Good grief, I'm usually the one being dumped, so I never thought that being the dumping one was this hard.
"Chevalier-sama! The situation at the castle seems strange somewhat."
As if mowing down my melancholy, combat maid Erina who rushed to the entrance hall was being noisy.
"What kind of strange?"
"There's a lot of knights-sama going in and out. Moreover, it's strange that they are galloping horses even though it's inside the castle walls."
Fumu, I open the map to see if there's a large outbreak of monsters in the Royal Capital, but nothing like that is happening.
After looking at the flow of the knights at the garrison, there are only people from three knight orders that are frequently going in and out.
I wonder what's happened.
There are a lot of people who seem to know about it, but there are only a few who would tell military matter to Satou.
The king and the prime minister seem busy too, I guess curious Nanashi will go visit them later at midnight.
I asked Erina to tell me if she learned what happened, and then I went to the kitchen alone.
I've decided to prepare a mountain of whale karages and various cakes so Lady Karina can binge eat and divert her attention at least.
This mansion has heat-retaining warehouse and refrigerator magic tools, so she can just take them out whenever she wants to eat.
An unexpected guest waited for us who had gone back to our mansion.
"I'm sorry that I kept you waiting."
"What, do not mind it. It was I who came without announcing first."
Julberg-shi who's wearing the white armor of holy knights composedly replies.
The people in the parlor are me, Liza, Julberg-shi, and the third seat of Shiga Eight Swords, Heim-shi the [Weed] whom I've just met for the first time.
Heim-shi is investigating Liza's strength, he's been sending probing glances toward her since awhile ago. If Liza were of the same race, she would have won sekuhara appeal.
By the way, Heim-shi's armor is also the white armor of holy knights, but it's been devilishly remodeled to the point that you wouldn't believe they're the same model. At least please stop adding those meaningless horns on the shoulders.
"Let's get to the point, what kind of business do you have?"
"Umu, there's going to be a banquet where Shiga Eight Swords gather tomorrow night in my mansion. His Majesty has granted me the good Oumi beef, so I'm thinking of treating everyone."
--The beef from the official farm we ate back then were delicious.
Besides me, Liza's face looks composed, but her presence feels like her heart has been captivated with the meat.
"I have invited other candidates of Shiga Eight Swords too. I want you two to come by all means."
It seems the candidates are Jeril who's a Mithril explorer like us, and five other people.
We couldn't exactly decline an invitation from the first seat of Shiga Eight Swords after all, so we accepted too.
There's a simple arena at Julberg-shi's mansion, so we have to make sure not to equip weapons in visible places in order to avoid fight.
I brought up the matter of the knights from Erina during our idle talk, but they only told me that it was a national defense secret.
--In other words, there's a situation that affects the safety of the nation huh?