15-6. Temple Knights
Satou's here. Going out of fashion is a cruel thing in the society. The end-of-century type of story that took the world by storm in my school era has become a thing of the past now. I guess the only one that I still see today is the story about a supreme ruler in the post war end-of-century world?
"--Are you pretending to not hear me?"
The longearkin (Booch) temple knight whom we meet at the end of our Smoke Car trip, Lady Liedill is glaring here with challenging eyes.
"Then, I'll say it again--You, you're not an ordinary person right?"
While watching her face from the side, I look at the people around.
The level 30 knights who are following her are prepared to cover her anytime even while looking perplexed, the other guards and followers are dumbfounded by the sudden turn of event.
"A-are you talking to me?"
"Feigning ignorance is futile. You cannot elude my Dragon Eyes even if you slip into the crowd."
Lady Liedill points her finger at the bewildered Lady Karina triumphantly.
An inexplicable atmosphere drift from the other girls besides Lady Karina.
There's no one who can break this atmosphere since Arisa and Mia have quickly blocked Tama's and Pochi's mouths.
"Looks like you're wearing some excellent recognition inhibition items that prevent appraisal. However, that's useless. My Dragon Eyes can precisely capture the sign of strong people."
To explain her own skill like that, what a kind girl.
I don't know on what basis that Dragon Eyes thingy judges someone as strong.
If we're only talking about outward appearance, Liza has been looking strong ever since we came out of Seryuu City's labyrinth, while the youth troupe, beginning with Tama and Pochi, don't look strong at all since the start.
Moreover, besides Pochi and Arisa who are equipped with [Thief God Harness], everyone is wearing the highest class of recognition inhibition magic tools, so Lady Karina and the other girls' situation are about the same.
All the members who are present here have acquired [Magic Power Operation], except Lady Karina, so perhaps Lady Liedill sensed it from the magic power leaking from her body?
Further, I think the reason why Lady Karina hasn't been able to learn [Magic Power Operation] is because Raka is just too convenient.
It's only been several seconds, but it's about time for me to save her.
"Shouldn't Temple Knight-sama know the true identity of this person already?"
With the help of Deception skill, I tried to befuddle Lady Liedill.
Lady Liedill only frowned in puzzlement, but it seemed one of the escort knights hit an answer as he run up to her and whispered on her ear.
"--The crown prince faction?!"
Looks like they've interpreted my suggestive words as [crown Prince Faction].
They call him "crown Prince" even though he's the emperor's younger brother? Or so I thought, but the weasel merchant also referred to him as "His Majesty" instead of "His Highness".
Judging from the atmosphere, it seems there's a huge gulf between the emperor and the crown prince.
"What are the the crown prince faction doing in such a remote region?! Don't tell me the 『Bud of Calamity』 is--"
Hey hey, don't murmur all these dangerous words.
I've already had more than enough fill of such buds of calamity!
Look now, you even made Arisa and Mia exchanged tired looks....
They're of rat and rabbit costumes' faces though.
"Well now, I don't know what is this crown prince faction you're talking about. We were just having a fun journey using the smoke car. Being fussed over by the important people of the empire like this is troubling."
After I said that, Lady Liedill scowls at me with a face that looks like it's saying "Gununu."
Lady Liedill catches the nape of my neck and continues speaking with her face close enough for us to kiss.
Since it's across the ratkin costume, the impregnable fortress pair, Arisa and Mia are lenient about it.
"--We cannot clash against the crown prince faction in front of the populace. However, the next time you show yourselves before us, I'll make you bathe in blood with this Blue Rose and Red Lily bestowed by His Majesty Emperor."
"Yes, we will bear it in mind."
I boldly smiled at Lady Liedill who threatened me in whisper.
After a bit, Lady Liedill thrusts me away.
Receiving Lady Liedill's anger, the stone floor of the station building is stamped by her soleprints.
Looks like it'll become a new tourist attraction--while thinking like that, we teleport away after slipping into the crowd.
"Satou-san, are we going to continue the tour?"
"Yes, it'll be fine if we just change our attires."
The [Bud of Calamity] uttered by Lady Liedill intrigued me, but I don't want to end this long-awaited vacation like this.
Further, later I'm planning to give a one-to-one special lecture to Lady Karina, the impetus of that accident.
"It's tiger nanodesu!"
Tama and Pochi who have changed into tiger costumes that look like it'll be popular in Osaka are taking poses with their hands up in the air.
After the two were done, Zena-san went to change.
Since Mia is also wearing the tiger costume, this time I'm the only one who's different with a gray-colored ratkin costume.
It looks like Mia who likes stripped pattern likes the costume next to the rabbit one.
They say that white and green stripes are good, but since there's no tiger with such stripes even in another world, I gave up.
"This is the land of dream desuwa!"
"It's a really wonderful place isn't it."
Lady Karina and Lulu talk dreamily.
We're currently going around the attractions in the amusement park of Mogeiba City.
The line in every attraction was great but since the park has a fast pass function similar to the land of a certain mouse, we've been going around, enjoying them at shortened time with the power of money.
As a note, I had sold some diamonds and jewels for the needed money (swen).
Of course they're natural products from the labyrinth.
"Master, Free Fall next would be good, so I propose."
"You two should go by yourselves next."
I bluntly declined the appeal of Tama and Nana who had become addicted to shriek-inducing attractions, but--.
"Master, can't we got together, so I ask."
I can't possibly leave the two who implored while looking like abandoned cats.
"Then, this will be the last time okay?"
"Let's go quickly, so I urge Master."
With my hands pulled by Tama and Nana, we went toward the Free Fall queue.
"Pochi and the others aren't going?"
"Pochi is already satisfied nanodesu."
"M-me too, I've had enough of scary things desuwa."
I was trying to increase my companion but, not just Pochi and Lady Karina, it seems everyone has had enough of shriek-inducing attractions.
--Afterward, I was finally released after accompanying them for seven more times.
"Satou-san, we found something interesting!"
"Master, it's called house of mirrors."
Zena-san and Lulu who were resting at the bench came inviting me.
The two hold my arms with unusual assertiveness and pull me to the house of mirrors.
I somehow feels like a suspect taken by police.
"Please look, tiger-san is everywhere no matter where you look at."
Lulu said to me happily.
If I had to say, I'd rather see Lulu's true appearance multiplied infinitely in the house of mirrors.
"Satou-san, please look up! The top is reflecting too."
I look up per Zena-san's words, our whole bodies are reflected on the top from sideway too, I don't know how it works.
I don't think it's good to have the image of underwear shown in public like this, though I don't really care since we're in animal costumes.
Arisa and Mia were waiting outside the house of mirrors.
"Master, let's go to the haunted house."
I went into the haunted house with the impregnable pair whose ulterior motives were in plain sight, but it wasn't that scary.
If anything, I feel that there were a lot of jack-in-the-box type of surprises.
"U~n, cultural difference sure is cruel."
An attraction that requires an explanation for 'where is the scary part' is not good.
Just Arisa's said, it's probably due to the cultural difference.
"Karina, let's spin and spin around more nodesuyo!"
"Yes, I won't lose!"
I rode on a questionable playground equipment that looked like both coffee cups and spinning attractions with Pochi and Lady Karina, and then I'm riding a swan boat that goes around a pond with Liza in the end.
"This is quite difficult."
"There's no vehicle that operates by pedals in Shiga Kingdom after all."
Liza pushes the pedal with serious expression on her face.
And then, the water wheel behind the swan's wings begins to rotate and the boat advances forward.
"Liza, stop pedaling. The wind feels nice."
"Yes, it's very refreshing."
Letting the boat advances by itself, I stretch myself on the boat's seat.
Urged by me, Liza also relaxedly let her body rest on the boat's seat.
"Even though we've played with boats in the solitary island palace, some things feel different with a boat in a pond don't you think."
"Yes, Master. It somehow feels very relaxing."
I think that's because I'm with the calm Liza.
That healing time with Liza didn't continue for long.
Attentive Ears skill picked up mosquito-like small scream.
"Liza, I'm sorry but please take care of the boat."
After telling that, I moved to where the scream was with short-range teleport without waiting for Liza's answer.
"It should be around here."
It seems the opposite side of the amusement park is a slum.
People wearing poor clothes are sitting on the sides of the dirty road, muttering something with vacant eyes.
Simply looking at them is suffering.
"Don't come hereeeeee!"
I move to where the voice is with Ground Shrink.
It should be nearby.
Light footsteps of a child--above huh!
A girl is falling down from an apartment-like building just when I look up.
If this were a Soft Inc. anime, this would have been the scene to start a two-hour movie.
I extend [Magic Hand] to catch the girl.
Her bones would be broken if I caught her normally.
She's around 7-8 year old. Roughly first or second year of primary school.
She has bunny ears and a round tail.
She's probably a bunnyear-kin unless she's wearing a bunny ears accessory.
I could hear a cool shout from the top of the apartment.
I might have been charmed by the voice if it wasn't the Command Word for a technique.
I block the down-pouring red light slashes with [<<Flexible Shield>>] I picked from the Magic Column.
It's considerably weaker compared to Liza's Magic Edge Cannon.
The two slashes seemed to be a rapid-fire type of technique.
The after waves cut the apartments on the left and right, the slum populace scream.
Fortunately, there doesn't seem to be any casualty.
"Killing Steel Brandish!"
The shadow who was jumping from the rooftop let out two light blades which tore the road.
A radial crack runs on the ground, the broken asphalt are flying in the air.
Two swords are clad with red light on the other side of the dust cloud.
The assailant jumped along with the scattered asphalt pieces.
Judging from the speed, it must be Flickering Movement skill.
It seems the assailant is wearing a dark brown overcoat with recognition inhibition function, although it's meaningless to me.
"Grass Star Tearing Slash!"
The two swords emitting red light assault us from both sides.
I repel the assailant's dual swords with the magic armor I produced on my right arm.
I can't use my left arm since it's holding the child.
Red sparks are scattered every time the magic armor touches the swords.
I haven't taken off the rat costume.
It's hard to fight unless I go for the win.
I produced magic edge on the costume's claw to try destroying the assailant's swords.
The assailant who sensed that took a distance away from me.
The dark brown overcoat the other party was wearing fell down when they jumped.
"Eluding all three of my secret arts--"
The one standing on the other side of the dust cloud is the Temple Knight we met this afternoon, Lady Liedill.
"You, even though the color is different, you were the ratkin who was beside the female ratkin this afternoon weren't you."
--Her breath is rough.
Looks like she's talking to buy the time needed to readjust her breath.
"As I thought, the crown prince faction has set their sight on the 『Bud of Calamity』 too."
I feel sorry for Lady Liedill who looks triumphant, but I came to save her because I heard a girl's scream by accident, I didn't have any intention to meddle in that kind of troublesome things.
"What are you going to do to this girl?"
"Of course, I'm going to sever her life right here and now."
The girl is surprised and shakes in my arm.
According to AR reading, her level is only 2. And she has three gifts, [Crisis Perception], [Oracle] and [Short-range Teleport]. She has no title.
Summing up all the information I got in Weasel Empire so far, I think the [Oracle] skill is the main cause of someone getting called [Bud of Calamity].
"Killing a young subject with my own hands is painful, but this too is for the sake of the empire's peace. It's necessary to cut off the future anxiety here."
"What can this child possibly do."
I've got the rough idea already, but I'd like to hear something more concrete from this seemingly loose-tongued girl.
"The very existence of that girl is a crime. Lament at the filthy peepers for the misfortune of having the skill carved onto you."
My guess that the skill to channel god, [Oracle], being the problem seems to be right after all.
In a world where gods exist, is it alright for her to call them [Filthy Peepers], I'm slightly worried while thinking that it's none of my business.
For now I understand that this girl is in danger as long as she has the [Oracle] skill.
Lady Liedill fixes her posture, readying her dual swords.
Her appearance makes me want to take a picture of her.
A blue meteor coming down from an apartment rooftop created a crater in front of Lady Liedill.
"You, from that time--Tigerkin?! What does this mean."
Blue luminous points reflected on my Radar are lined up on top of an apartment.
Apparently, everyone besides Lady Karina has gathered.
Everyone is shining blue light and with [Coercion] skill in full throttle.
"I-impossible.... Such masters in such a countryside.... So the crown prince is really making use of the hero in Dejima Labyrinth to mass produce strong warriors!"
I'm bothered by "Making use of the hero."
Rather than asking her the details, meeting the hero directly in Dejima Island seems faster.
From our correspondence last time, it looks like he doesn't want Nanashi to visit them, so I probably should go as Satou.
Leaving that aside, I have to close the curtain here soon--.
"Withdraw from here."
I urge Lady Liedill who's shaking in fear to escape.
"A Te-Temple Knight does not reteat."
"Then, it can't be helped."
I take out a magic sword clad with evil aura from my Storage and execute [Coercion] skill in full throttle.
Next, I turn on the [Grim Look] preset of the animal costume, transforming into something that will appear in your nightmare if you see it once while you're in [Fear] state.
Lady Liedill screamed briefly, drew back several steps, tangled her legs and fell on her back.
Scary thing is scary even if you're level 57.
Since the attack is worse than Wraith's and Lich's fear assaults, I guess it can't be helped.
>[Bloodthirst Projection] Skill Acquired.
>Title [One who is Feared] Acquired.
>Title [The Great King of Dread] Acquired.
For some reason, I got some strange skill and titles.
The Nostradamus great prophecy-like title slightly bothers me, but since it's not like anyone will see it anyway, it's all good.
"Kuh, so this is it...."
Arisa who heard Lady Liedill's muttering of resignation shouted, "If you're saying, 『Kuh』, the next line should've been 『Kill me!』, don't you understand!", but let's just ignore her.
"Well then, farewell. I'll take responsibility of this girl and take her out of the empire."
After telling that to Lady Liedill who was crying bitter tears, I moved to a safe house at a rural town in Oyugock Dukedom using Unit Arrangement.
Of course, I went with all of my companions, not just with the girl.
"U-um.... are you going to kill me?"
That was the girl's first utterance once she had calmed down after I gave her a hot milk.
Since I've healed her bruises and traces of abuse, and let her take a bath, she looks refreshed compared to when she was in Mogeiba slum.
"I will not. I will give you three options."
Oops, I forgot that she's a child who doesn't understand difficult words.
"Choose one among three, I mean."
Once I corrected myself to make it easier to understand, it seemed the girl comprehended too.
"First, live in a temple as an oracle miko in Shiga Kingdom."
"They're the people who are tasked to convey the words of gods to the populace, like this person here."
I explained while showing the vision of the former head miko of Tenion Temple, currently a maid apprentice, Lily to her.
The girl stares at Lily's image with glittering eyes.
"The second choice, concede the power of oracle to someone else and go back to your hometown."
It's normally impossible, but if we use the Unique Skill of demon lord Shizuka, it's possible to transfer this girl's [Oracle] skill to someone else.
"I mean, giving up the oracle power."
The girl tilts her head in puzzlement with complicated look.
She doesn't seem to understand well.
"The third choice, live in an orphanage in Shiga Kingdom, and once you've grown big enough, you either discard the oracle power and go back to your home town, or live as an oracle miko."
"I don't really understand."
It's hard to explain things to a child.
"Geez, this is hard to watch. Leave this to Arisa-chan."
Arisa who appeared proudly with an jerked chin sits on my lap.
I tried to put her down since there was plenty of space left on the sofa, but she resisted more intensely than I thought.
"You shouldn't fight okay?"
"It's not a fight. It's just a kind of endearment."
Arisa replied back to the girl with a triumphant smile.
"Now then, continuing from before. Going back home or having lots of meals, which one you want?"
The girl answered without any hesitation.
On the corner of my vision, I saw the beastkin girls nodded with serious expressions on their faces.
"You can play with other children but you can only eat a little, or you can eat a lot of meals but you have to work, which one you want?"
"Meals, a lot!"
It's an immediate answer too this time.
"You heard that. It seems this child wants to become an apprentice at Lily's place in Duchy Capital."
I felt awkward since it somehow felt like we deceived an innocent child, but we ended up entrusting the girl to Tenion Temple in the Duchy Capital.
Of course, they wholeheartedly welcomed an addition to the valuable [Oracle Miko].
Just in case, Household of Duke Mitsukuni will be her guardian.
She's wearing the translation ring from the elf village, so she can talk in Shiga Language without problem.
She's probably going to learn Shiga Language naturally during the course of her training.
"I-it's about time to rest desuwa."
"You can't, Karina-sama. There's still five magic power potion left."
When I indifferently told the complaining Lady Karina about the remaining potion, her expression became miserable and then she shifts her imploring glance at Raka that's emitting light on my forehead.
『Do your best, Karina-dono.』
Raka encouraged her with a subdued voice.
"Now, Karina-sama. I'll add more magic power potion if you don't continue."
"....S-so cruel desuwa~"
We restart the magic power operation training while Lady Karina looks like she's about to cry.
It's just a simple training where she has to cut an adamantite pillar with a magic wooden sword filled with magic power.
Tama and Pochi who peeked from behind a nearby tree like a totem pole are secretly cheering for Lady Karina.
Looking closer, it seems the other girls are also watching over the special training.
Further, she had drank 27 more magic power potions by the time she learned magic power operation.