TWEM Vol. 2 Chapter 15

 

Chapter 15 – Reunion

 

Three days after I bought Ephyr, I visited the royal palace to see Dillan, together with Finne, Iris, and Asha.

I had sent a letter about Ephyr the day she told us her story, but the king’s reply said that he wanted to talk about it in person.

We thus waited for her to recover completely, then headed to the palace to report.

That day, Ephyr would stay in the residence, to receive Lyla and Mia’s maid training.

As soon as we entered the palace and were led to a guest room, Dillan joined us.

“Haruto, is it true that the elf princess was turned into a slave?”

Dillan asked immediately about Ephyr.

“Yes, let me explain in detail.”

I related Ephyr’s story to Dillan, exactly as she had told me.

“ — I see, so that’s what happened. I was aware that elves lived in that forested area, but we did not have any relations with that village, so we did not even realize it…Glicente, you lout. Last week, he suddenly spouts about having summoned the “Heroes of legend” and demands for all other states to give them special treatment…he’s acting more and more arrogantly these days…”

I picked up something curious among the words mumbled by Dillan.

“Please wait, Dillan, what did you say about ‘Heroes’?”

“Hm? Oh, apparently Glicente succeeded in summoning Heroes, a little more than a month ago. Summoning Heroes is stipulated to be possible only if all Three States officially agree to, and yet…anyway, what about it?”

I see, so the kingdom of Glicente did it all on their own…

I fell completely silent, so Dillan looked at me with suspicion.

“Hmm, well…I suppose I should tell you everything, Dillan.”

“Sir Haruto, are you sure?”

I nodded to Finne, then created a barrier to prevent any sound from leaking outside.

“Dillan, forgive me, but I just created a barrier around us. I don’t want anyone else to hear what I’m about to tell you.”

“…that’s fine by me. I imagine it’s something of vital importance.”

Dillan saw that my expression was nothing but serious and nodded.

“Thank you. What I wanted to tell you is my relation with the Heroes and the Glicente kingdom— ”

I thus told Dillan the very same confession I had done to Finne and the others a couple days before.

After my explanation, Dillan sighed deeply.

“Who could ever have imagined that the source of your strength was something like that…in any case, something must be done about Glicente…”

“Dillan, could you let me handle Glicente?”

“No, Haruto, I understand your feelings, but this is an issue between states…please let me think about it.”

Well, there was no denying that Dillan was right.

If I took my revenge as I wanted, innocent citizens might end up suffering as a result.

I was considering such thoughts, when I noticed someone’s presence in front of the door.

I deactivated the barrier and that someone knocked. 

“Your Majesty, it is I, Zebastian. I apologize to interrupt you, but may I have a moment?”

“Come in.”

Dillan gave permission and Zebastian entered the room, then bowed to us.

“Your Majesty, there are guests wishing to have an audience.”

“Guests? There weren’t any audiences scheduled today…”

“It is something related to Lord Haruto, actually.”

“Me?”

Zebastian turned towards me and nodded.

“Yes. The guests have stated to be looking for Lord Haruto, and wish to have an audience with Your Majesty in hopes to receive information about him.”

“They’re looking for Haruto? Why would they come asking me?”

Zebastian immediately resolved Dillan’s doubt.

“The guests claim to be Heroes, actually…their leader introduced himself as Tendo.”

Wha?

I froze for a few seconds.

Why was Tendo here? Ichinomiya is probably together with him too…

They probably heard about the EX rank, so they came to the country where the ceremony was held, but…

Dillan, Finne, Iris and Asha all looked at me.

I could use teleportation to go back without meeting them, but depending on the reason why they came, it might be worth it to see them…

As I was pondering, Dillan asked about my intentions.

“What will you do, Haruto? As the king, I have a duty to accept their request for an audience, but should I have you meet?”

“…yes, I guess I could use the opportunity to see their faces. Depending on the reason why they’re looking for me, I might meet them too.”

“Understood. Then you could wait in the audience room with miss Finne, pretending to be guards. If you think it’s okay to actually meet them, just give me a signal.”

“Okay, thank you.”

Dillan nodded and glanced at Zebastian, who left the guest room.

He was going to take the Heroes to the audience room, I thought.

We too went to the audience room to wait.

Finne and I wore hoods to cover most of our faces and stood in a position where Tendo and the others couldn’t see us easily.

Iris was standing next to Dillan’s throne. Asha was in a corner of the room, with other maids.

Soon after our preparations were complete, Tendo’s party was led into the room.

Tendo was the first of the group, followed by Ichinomiya, Mogami, Asakura, and Shinonome.

It was the childhood friends group, minus Orihara Shoya…I wonder if anything happened to him?

The group of five lined up in front of the throne and got on one knee.

“We are deeply thankful for allowing us an audience on such short notice, Your Majesty.”

“Raise your heads, please.”

Tendo and the others duly complied.

“O Heroes of Glicente, you are welcome in our Perdis. I am the ruler of this kingdom, Dillan Arclaidh Perdis. She is my daughter, Iris.”

Iris bowed and Tendo’s group introduced themselves in turn.

“I am Tendo Koji, Hero from the kingdom of Glicente.”

“I am Ichinomiya Suzuno.”

“I am Mogami Shinya.”

“I am Asakura Natsuki.”

“I am Shinonome Aoi.”

“I see you are truly young, exactly as King Glicente stated…sir Tendo, to what do I owe the honor of your visit?”

Tendo looked straight at Dillan and answered.

“We are looking for the adventurer named Haruto, who was recently promoted to EX rank. We have heard that the promotion ceremony was held in this country, so we thought Your Majesty might know something…”

“Hmm, it is true that Sir Haruto’s ceremony was held here, but…”

“Is that true!? Your Majesty, do you know where he might be?”

Ichinomiya was still kneeling, but leaned forward as if she wanted to run to Dillan.

“Please tell us, sire!”

“We humbly beg you, sire!”

“Please!”

“Your Majesty, please tell us!”

After Ichinomiya, Tendo, Mogami, Asakura and Shinonome all pleaded, bowing their heads.

“…let me ask one thing first. Why are you looking for Sir Haruto?”

Dillan glanced at me for one second, then asked the question to Tendo’s group.

“That is…because the adventurer named Haruto might be an important friend of ours. Maybe he doesn’t see us in the same way…but for us, Haruto is a very important person!”

“There are things I haven’t told him yet! If Haruto the adventurer is the same Haruto I know, there are many things I wish to tell him…please, Your Majesty, please tell us anything you know…!”

After Tendo and Ichinomiya spoke, Mogami, Asakura and Shinonome nodded too.

So they didn’t come looking for me because the king of Glicente told them to kill me, but because they were sincerely worried.

“…I see. Your earnest pleas do not fall on deaf ears.”

Dillan looked in my direction again and I nodded to him.

Tendo and the others did not seem to be lying, so I thought it would not be a problem to meet them.

“I shall tell you where you can find Sir Haruto.”

The faces of Tendo and the others lit up.

“Thank you very much!! Where should we— ”

Dillan interrupted Tendo and pointed towards me.

“SIr Haruto is right over there.”

“Eh?”

“Over there…?”

“W-wasn’t there a guard there…?”

Tendo and the others turned towards me and I lifted the hood from my head.

“Hey there. How are you guys doing? You look great, Heroes.”

I casually greeted and waved at the group, causing them to freeze on the spot.

The first one to “regain her senses” and speak was Ichinomiya.

“Ha…Haruto? Are you really Haruto!? You’re not an imposter, are you!?”

Ichinomiya slowly walked towards me as she talked.

“What fool would go around pretending they’re me…?”

“Aah…waah…you’re really alive…waah…I’m so glad!!!”

I smiled wryly and Ichinomiya hugged me, breaking down in tears.

“I’m so glad…I could see you again…”

“Sorry for making you worry.”

I patted Ichinomiya’s head.

Ever since she hugged me, though, I feel stinging gazes…from Iris and Finne, who had removed her hood too. They were whispering among themselves, so I used Physical Boost on my hearing to learn what they were saying.

“A-another one? I have to do my best…I’m the first wife, so…”

“Hmm!? I have found the fourth wife, haven’t I?”

Princess Iris? What’s this “fourth wife” business? I didn’t know I had a third one in the first place?

I didn’t know how I could explain the situation, or how I had gotten into it in the first place…as I was lost in such thoughts, Tendo and the others ran up to me too.

“You really are Haruto…right?”

“I’m glad to see you’re alive, Yuki!”

“You’re kind of different from before, though. But yeah, I’m glad to see you’re fine.”

“That’s true…I’m happy to see you well too.”

Tendo, Mogami, Asakura and Shinonome expressed their relief too.

They could just use Appraisal on me, I thought, but kept it to myself and smiled wryly at them.

“Heh…well, what can I say, I’m glad to see you guys are doing fine too. Orihara isn’t with you?”

“We’re Heroes, after all. We’re more surprised to see you safe and sound…Orihara is with another group now.”

Mogami nodded repeatedly to Tendo’s words.

I found it pretty curious that Orihara wasn’t in the same group as them, but…

…before I could say anything about it, Ichinomiya finally stopped crying and asked me a question.

“Haruto.”

“Hm?”

“Ehm, could you tell us what happened to you after you left the castle? Princess Mariana told us that you left on your own and were found gravely wounded in a forest near the capital…and nothing else. What did actually happen?”

“Aah, about that…”

I paused for a moment and looked at Dillan.

He quickly understood what I meant to say, then spoke to Ichinomiya and the others.

“O Heroes, I believe you will find it more comfortable to speak elsewhere. Let us conclude the audience here, you may continue in the guest room. I hope you will allow me to participate, yes?”

Tendo and the others all nodded to Dillan’s proposal.

It wasn’t exactly a quick and easy topic, so it was surely better to move to a more comfortable location.

~

We thus went back to the guest room, with Dillan and Asha in the lead.

For some reason, however, Finne and Iris both came next to me, to walk arm in arm until we arrived.

On my right arm, the tender sensation of Finne’s chest. On my left, Iris’…well, just Iris.

Once again, I felt a stinging gaze — but this time, it came from behind.

I turned around to find out what it was and almost yelped.

Tendo didn’t seem to think anything of it, while Mogami looked a little jealous. All good so far.

The ladies, however, were simply terrifying.

Did they think I became a skirt chaser or something?

The tense atmosphere lingered until we arrived at the guest room.

There were two wide sofas in the room: Tendo and the other four sat on one, while Finne, me, Iris and Dillan — in that order — sat on the other. Normally, Dillan should be the one sitting in the middle, though…

Finne and Iris were still locking arms with me, so Ichinomiya and the other two girls kept staring daggers.

I was pretty spooked inside, but tried speaking as normally as I could.

“…it’s been a while, guys. So, you were told that ‘I left on my own and was then found gravely wounded in the forest, and nothing else’, right?”

“Yes, at least that’s what Princess Mariana told us…”

Tendo nodded to my question.

I looked at their reactions and sighed deeply.

“Well…that’s not wrong, actually.”

“…that’s not what actually happened, right?”

“Not exactly.”

For a moment, I hesitated whether I should tell them the whole truth or not — but decided to do it.

“The reason why I left was that Mariana kicked me out. Since they didn’t need useless people.”

“….!?”

Ichinomiya swallowed her breath. Next to her, Tendo frowned.

“I can’t believe it…but it explains why we didn’t hear anything about Haruto the adventurer and the promotion to EX rank…so she kept the information from us on purpose…?”

“Hm? When did you guys leave the Glicente capital?”

“About one week ago. When we arrived in Vaana, we first heard about ‘Haruto the EX rank adventurer’.”

Mogami answered my question and I reflected a bit.

The EX rank promotion ceremony was held more than 10 days ago. It was decided in a summit between the rulers of the Three Great States, so Glicente’s king had to know about someone called “Haruto” being promoted to EX rank. There was no way to tell if Mariana knew about it too, though.

“…in any case, the reason why I left the castle was exactly that. When I left the town and arrived in the forest, a group of Glicente knights attacked me and I almost died.”

“What!? Glicente knights attacked you!? They said that they found you wounded in the forest, but…”

“They’re the reason why I was wounded in the first place. They didn’t finish me off, but they left me there to die.”

Asakura was shocked, so I explained further.

“What happened next, Yuki? I mean, you survived, right?”

Shinonome seemed puzzled, so I replied.

“Yeah, then I met God and— ”

I continued and explained everything up to my promotion to EX rank.

After I finished talking, the room was deadly silent for a while.

Maybe because I was talking seriously, Finne and Iris released my arms and looked up at me, with concern in their eyes.

I smiled at them and patted their heads to console them.

The silence was eventually broken by Ichinomiya.

“I could never imagine something like that happened…Haruto…what are you going to do now?”

“Hmm, well…”

Tendo, Mogami, Asakura and Shinonome too — they all looked at me intently.

I took a deep breath, then answered.

“…actually, recently I bought an elf slave.”

Maybe because of the word “slave”, Tendo and the others looked confused, wondering what I wanted to say.

Despite such a reaction, however, I continued normally.

“That slave is actually an elf princess. But it doesn’t make sense for a princess to become a slave, right? So I asked how that could happen, and she told me that the village she used to live in was attacked, about one year ago.”

“An elf village? Humans can’t go there, right?”

The Heroes were probably educated about this world: Tendo looked at me, puzzled.

“Yet it was attacked by humans. People we know, actually.”

“You can’t mean— ”

“Exactly. It was attacked by an army from Glicente, the kingdom that summoned us.”

Tendo probably expected me to say it, so his shock wasn’t too great.

Ichinomiya and the other three, however, looked like they couldn’t believe their ears.

“W-why would they do such a thing!?”

“Elves, as a species, have beautiful, elegant features. They might have thought of catching them to make them into their slaves.”

“Is there proof that they were really attacked by Glicente soldiers?”

“We don’t have any physical proof. Only the characteristics of the invaders’ armor, which the elf princess told us about, and the fact that the village was located in a forest on the border between Perdis and Glicente, so the invasion couldn’t have come from another country. That’s how we concluded that the army had to come from Glicente.”

I answered Mogami and Asakura’s questions. Ichinomiya listened with a pained expression, and Shinonome looked at her with worry.

“I-I can’t believe it…why would they…?”

“Suzuno…”

I could understand that she didn’t want to accept it.

The country that summoned her tried to have one of her classmates killed and attacked an elven village to capture the inhabitants and make them into slaves.

That was the undeniable truth, however.

I went quiet for a moment and Tendo asked me another question.

“…I see. So, considering all of what you told us, what do you plan to do, Haruto?”

“Well, first of all, I am thinking of crushing the kingdom of Glicente. Absolutely.”

When I finished speaking, everyone in the room shuddered.

Whoops, my Intimidation leaked again…

I deactivated it immediately and everyone breathed a sigh of relief.

“Sorry, I leaked a little Intimidation just now.”

“T-that’s fine. Anyway Haruto, how do you plan to crush Glicente? I too am of the opinion that something must be done about that country, but do you have any concrete ideas?”

I had to shake my head to Dillan’s question.

“No, I haven’t thought about it yet. For now, I’m thinking of going to Ephyr’s village, to see in what state it is. She’s recovered already, so we’ll probably leave in a few days.”

“The elf village, I see…we never had any connections with it, so we do not even know if it still exists or not, but I surely am interested in knowing its current state. Will you be able to reach it, though?”

“Hmm, well, Ephyr probably knows, I guess.”

That was a bit too optimistic of me, but there was no point in thinking about that now.

I was going to go with Ephyr and Finne too, so she could train on the way.

Just as I formulated such a plan, Iris spoke up.

“I’m coming too, Haruto!”

Eh? Can I really take the princess with me? It might be dangerous…

I looked at Dillan to see what he thought, but he nodded ever so casually.

“If you’re with her, then it’s fine. Asha, you accompany Iris too.”

“Thank you, father!”

“Eh? Me too, sire…?”

Iris was overjoyed, but Asha was taken completely by surprise.

“…well, if Dillan says so, I have no complaints.”

I nodded, then turned to Tendo’s group.

“What are you going to do, guys?”

“Well, now we know you’re fine, so— ”

“E-excuse me! May I ask something first?”

Tendo started replying, but Ichinomiya — unusually for her — interrupted him.

“What’s wrong, Ichinomiya?”

“Haruto, well…these two girls have been very close to you since before…what exactly are they to you?”

Ichinomiya’s gaze was quite ominous.

If I didn’t pick my words carefully, I could step on a landmine…

“Finne and Iris? Well, they’re— ”

“Haruto’s wives!!”

“H-hey!!”

I was trying to dodge the issue somehow, but the truth bomb was dropped before I could do anything.

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