Satou here. Wonder why speech from the bigwigs always take so long in a ceremony. I remember fighting my drowsiness real hard during those times in my student days.
Arisa's cheerful voice coming from the Familiar Link snapped me out of it as I was lost in my research.
『We're done preparing over here. Come to the ceremony hall soon, okay.』
"Got it--I'm heading there now."
I get off the chair while putting away the research data.
I shouldn't have paused there--.
『Master, are you still mulling over the identity of that black-haired man?』
--As it made Arisa worry.
This [Black-haired Man] Arisa talking about must be the mysterious man who stopped the undoing of Demon God's seal at Saga Empire's capital back then.
"Nah, not really."
His identity may be shrouded in mystery, but since he went out of his way to stop the crisis of Demon God revival, I don't really consider him to be a threat.
I believe he's probably someone related to gods--along the line of familiars or apostles or something.
Apparently the fact that Arisa's divine gift [Status Check] couldn't see through the man's status and that the beastkin girls couldn't see the man's face despite facing him head-on weighted on Arisa's mind.
The former was probably due to the man wearing the same type of equipment as the [Thief God Harness] that Arisa and Liza also had.
"Teleporting directly to the royal castle's waiting room is probably not a good idea, is it."
『Un, there's a lot of people going in and out, so I think you'd want to get to either Mito's room or the capital's Pendragon Mansion first.』
There's usually a lot of attendants and maids present in Hikaru's room at the royal castle, so I'll just be a good kid here and head to the capital Pendragon's mansion first.
When I tried to see Arisa and the girls with space magic [Clairvoyance] after she was done showing off, I could feel a Spacial Obstruction Field put up by Arisa.
I could break through it if I wanted to, but there's no need to act so boorish here.
They might be in the middle of changing after all.
I moved from the Solitary Island Palace to Pendragon Mansion with Unit Arrangement.
"Earl-sama! Please hurry."
When I got out of the teleport room, a maid who worked at the mansion urged me to hurry.
Even though I had borrowed the help of Quickdress skill to change into the ceremonial suit already, I still got made to change into a white suit that matched with Arisa and the girls.
This suit kind of feels like it's made for a bridegroom.
"I've got to put make-up on too?"
"Yes, the venue where the ceremony takes place is quite big."
Since it's not like I'm going to perform in a theater, I firmly refuse heavy make-up.
Today's ceremony will be for the king to give awards for our various roles on the continent, and the official formation of my [Private Knights] which is authorized thanks to my Demon Lord Slayer status.
I personally didn't have any interest in this Private Knights stuff, but the girls had been getting so many more invitations from foreign countries thanks to our efforts around the continent, thus, as encouraged by Arisa and Hikaru, we'd be forming the knights as some sort of breakwater.
As the reason is such, the members will be comprised of a select few mainly from Solitary Island girls, handpicked by Arisa and Liza.
And since it looks like we'd get a flood of applications, we make it a requirement to [subjugate a Selbira's Labyrinth Floor Master without casualty] before anyone can apply.
With this requirement, there's only going to be at most two chances a year to apply.
"My lord, a visitor is waiting for you in the parlor--"
A butler who had just been hired recently led me to the parlor after telling me that.
I checked the Map while thinking that today no one was planning to visit and saw someone unexpected there.
"Please accept my apologies for making you wait, Your Highness Soltrick."
"Fret not. I merely stopped by here on my way back from a business."
The crown prince of Shiga Kingdom, First Prince Soltrick spoke back candidly as he stood up.
Looks like he's only accompanied by royal knight Bodan-shi today--no wait, there's about 20 royal knights outside, probably his escort.
"You are heading to the castle now, no? It won't hurt to go together as friends sometimes."
As there was no reason for me to refuse him I smiled and nodded before getting on the royal family carriage outside.
This carriage is the open hatch type for parade usage and such, thus it's been installed with a magic tool that generates a powerful magic barrier to prevent assassination attempts.
There's usually many people sightseeing around Pendragon Mansion ever since the stuff about [Demon Lord Slayer] spread, so he must have made this arrangement with my safety in mind.
Though I don't think some random ruffians could so much as put a scratch on me, I'm just happy for His Highness Soltrick's thoughtfulness.
"It's Lord Pendragon!"
"Long live Demon Lord Slayer!"
"Earl-sama! Marry me too!"
"Glory to Lord Pendragon and his seven brave warriors!"
As the carriage got closer to the entrance, a crowd of people waiting outside the mansion cheered for me.
Seems like there's a lot more people than usual today.
I saw someone familiar among the crowd.
That's--right--an attire from the snow kingdom at the eastern country group. She looks similar to princess Awayuki (Light Snow) of Kiwolk Kingdom.
But there's no way a princess of the snowy Kiwolk Kingdom would come to this place, and I didn't see her trademark super huge hammer with her, so it must be someone's else.
Right as I was about to search the Map, his highness Soltrick talked to me.
I shut the menu and turn toward him.
"Would it be safe to assume that you have an interest in military affairs considering you are forming your own private knights?"
"No, that's not--"
I told him that the formation of private knights was to act as a repellent for the girls.
"That sounds just like you..."
First Prince Soltrick didn't seem to find my answer to his liking, he muttered on about something with his finger on his forehead.
It seemed that his mind eventually came to term, as he then said "Well fine. You do you." with a partly understanding look on his face.
"I was going to make an offer for the marshal position under my rule were you had an interest in military... What a shame."
I didn't know that the rank even went up to marshal in this world.
"My deepest apologies."
"You need not apologize. Even though nobody except the king could command you, would you still be willing to assist, within your capacity, ancestor king--Hero Nanashi-dono when disasters strike?"
"Yes. I have no experience in military either, so please pick the marshal from among the generals instead."
I'm happy that he holds such a high opinion about me, but I'm not gonna thrust myself into Shiga Kingdom's military affairs, nope.
"Right. Forget about what I said--"
Maybe the present king has made it forbidden to solicit me as it doesn't look like the prince is going to aggressively pursue the matter.
I can only hope that he'll continue in this stance even after he's succeeded the king.
<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.>
"Now then, let's have a look at the ceremony's schedule--"
After parting from the first prince at the ceremony venue, I took out the handwritten schedules Arisa gave me from Storage as I sat in the waiting room.
There's a lot of bigwigs I gotta greet in these ceremonies.
"Satou-sama, your necktie is a bit crooked."
Since a lady attendant in the room pointed that out, I put the schedule in my hand onto the desk and reached my hand to my necktie.
"Allow me to take care of it, Satou-sama, please just relax--"
The attendant whispered in my ears and gently touched my necktie.
She's getting oddly close. I'm glad at the ample bosom that's pressing on me, but Arisa and the girls would get mad if they found out, I gotta take care not to show it on my face.
"Your Excellency, the ceremony will begin soon, if you'd please come."
A male official, the program director, called for me, so I thanked the attendant and left the room.
When I got to the ceremony stage, the male host's eyes sparkled brightly when he saw me.
"He's a mithril explorer who has left countless monsters dead in his wake, he's also the Demon Lord Slayer who leads the Pendragon Seven Warriors! Here comes His Excellency Earl Pendragon!"
As I climbed up the stage like being guided by the super enthusiastic host's words, applause erupted in the venue.
It was earsplitting huge applause.
Of course it would be, as the people not only crowded the huge venue space, they even occupied the surrounding buildings' windows and roofs.
I noticed something as I surveyed the surroundings.
Arisa and the girls aren't on the stage even though they're displayed on the Radar.
Looking at Map, they're currently standing by in a waiting room situated under the stage.
Oh right, it was written on the schedule--.
Using the Menu's inspection function, I check the schedule note in Storage.
Apparently, the girls will make their entrance along with announcement of the private knights' formation.
I'm told that they're going to show up by getting lifted up from under the stage like singers in Showa era.
Needless to say, it must be Arisa's idea.
"--To confer Blue Blossom Medal in recognition of Earl Pendragon's distinguished services."
The king had finished his speech while I was thinking some random stuff.
Later on, Hikaru told me that this unfamiliar sounding medal was awarded to people who strive to maintain order and peace and help with disaster relief.
After doing the noble thanking thing for the award, the program moved on to the private knights formation ceremony.
Jajajajaaan, with a BGM that sounded like one for a wedding ceremony, the stage's floor opened, and a lift came out of the theater's basement.
I see many brides.
No wait, looking closer, those are armor fashioned like wedding dresses.
"Earl Pendragon's Private Knights 『Bridal Knights』 made their entrance! Everyone, please give them applause!"
As the host shouted, thunderous applause erupted in the venue.
Bridal Knights--like knights of wedding? No, they must mean knight of brides here.
As the name is in English, I don't think Shiga Kingdom people get what it means, but since their armor looks exactly like wedding dresses from afar, they may very well get that as a general picture.
Since the Spacial Obstruction Barrier was still active, I called Arisa through the Familiar Link.
『Ehehe~ how do I look, cute aren't I? Did you fall for me again?』
She didn't believe even for one second that I'd get mad at her.
I got taken aback by her effervescent smile and lost any motivation to complain.
『So so hey, what do you think~? Feeling like embracing me, or pushing me down yet?』
It looks good on her and she does look cute, so I just go with 『Yup, cute armor』.
『Ehh, just the armor~? Praise me for real~』
Ignoring Arisa, I look at the girls.
With Arisa leading, I had a feeling that Hikaru along with the golden armor team, the silver armor team Zena-san, Sera, Lady Karina, Princess Shistina, including Shiro, Crow would be there, but even viscount Emlin daughter, Rina Emlin who should have been working as an acting lord of Brighton City, Princess Menea of Rumooku Kingdom, Lady Karina's maid Pina, and escort maids Elina and the newbie-chan were all also present, wearing the same kind of dress armor.
Though of course, members of Echigoya Firm or the house brownies weren't there as that would just be--.
My eyes was nailed on a beautiful woman who was shyly waving her hands while hiding behind other girls at the end of the line.
I reflexively let out a loud voice.
My beloved Aze-san, the high elf of Borunean Forest, was there.
"Nothing less to expect from Earl Pendragon! His wonderful sharp sight has found out about it so quick, special advisor of Bridal Knights, the Sacred Tree-sama of Boruenan hidden by the mystical veil--High Elf Aialize-sama graces us with her presence!"
After the host declared that, the venue buzzed louder than ever.
Even ordinary elves are rare, yet a high elf who should have never left the World's Tree is here after all, it's no wonder they're shocked.
『What are you doing here, Aze-san?』
I undid Arisa's Spacial Obstruction Barrier and asked Aze-san.
『Arisa-chan called for me. She said a mass wed--』
『I didn't want to leave Aze-san out for the formation ceremony!』
Arisa cut in and interrupted Aze-san.
『Hou? It's really just a ceremony for the formation of the private knights?』
『It's not a mass wedding?』
『U-unn... That's um, err, how should I put it...』
『It's okay even if it wasn't a mass wedding.』
The idea of holding a wedding with Aze-san does sound enticing, but I'm not really sure if it also comes with dozens of brides.
I've got to steel my heart and proceed with the Knights Formation Ceremony here.
After we were done with the Knights Formation Ceremony approved by the king, we the knights paraded around the city, creating a commotion that rivaled that of a royal family wedding.
"That was really fun. Arisa-chan, thank you for inviting me."
After the parade was over, Aze-san took out a wand from Item Box.
"Are you heading back already?"
"Yes, as I should not leave Boruenan's World Tree for too long."
Looks like she's asked Saisalize-san of Beriunan Clan to take over in the meantime.
"I'll escort you there."
"Thanks, Satou. Everyone, see you again--"
I took Aze-san's hand and sent her back to Boruenan with Unit Arrangement.
"Oh right, Satou I almost forgot, congratulations for clearing the 『Trials of Gods』."
Aze-san congratulated me at the wooden house.
"If you're going to the Realm of Gods--"
Aze-san's platinum blonde hair fluttered.
『--Take care of your own body.』
While combing down her light pale pink-colored hair, Aze-san stares at me with eyes that are unlike that of Aze-san's nor Demi-God mode Aze-san's.
『Do not leave your body behind at the rift between dimensions. Make sure to put it in your hand luggage and bring it along with you.』
Before I could ask for her identity, deep emerald haired Aze-san put her face closer to mine.
『Just a bit more, Ichirou.』
I saw fluttering indigo blue hair in the corner of my view.
Right as she finished saying that, Aze-san blocked my lips using hers.
Just as our lips met, innumerable amount of compressed information flowed into my brain.
After what felt like both an eternity and an instant, Aze-san slowly pulled back.
『Just a bit more.』
Aze-san's hair color turned back to platinum blonde.
I hold Aze-san who has passed out, and go over the information I just got.
The Garden of Gods is located in a higher-order dimension, those who aren't used to the place risks having their soul getting torn apart, and the kiss earlier is intended to give me the knacks and protection that would prevent that.
"Aze-san, how are you feeling?"
Aze-san had no memories of what just occurred, but the phenomena of rapidly changing hair color must have been caused by that unknown little girl possessing her.
I'm quite happy that she would give me a warning, but I'd prefer if she didn't arbitrarily use Aze-san's body like that ever again.
Even a kiss from Aze-san had no point if it weren't from her own volition.
I entrusted Aze-san to miko Lua-san and went back to the capital with Unit Arrangement.
"Master! I can't believe you'd leave behind the note written by your beloved Arisa-chan--"
Right as I got back to the garden party at the ceremony venue sponsored by the king, Arisa pressed on me with the schedule chart in her hand.
"Aah, sorry sorry--"
Just as I apologized, I found the schedule chart inside my Storage.
"--But mine's here though?"
I passed the schedule chart from my Storage to Arisa.
"Oh my, it's true. The girl in charge of dresses at the waiting room said someone left it behind, I was sure it was Master's."
Arisa took my hand and pulled me toward the party while apologizing using Showa phrase "Sry, sry".
"Master, over here nanodesu! A whole roast of Cow-san awaits nodesuyo!"
At the spot where a whole Oumi Cow pierced by a huge skewer was getting cooked, Tama and Pochi who were in bridal-looking dress armor called for me while hopping up and down.
I should save complaining about the matter of making the Private Knights Formation ceremony look like a mass wedding for when we get back to the Solitary Island Palace.
Today, let's just enjoy the garden party.
※ Next update is planned for 2/10.