“I must say, Konjiro, it is a surprise to see you here this early. Going by the time it takes getting from Dondegarm to Palocaesy by carriage, I believe the assigned adventurers will not be here until later in the afternoon.”
“It is as you say, yes. I am just here to check how prepared you are in taking on the dungeon tomorrow.”
“The fox be telling lies, Lady Noire. He is not one who usually goes out of his way for someone else unless it’s for his own personal gain. It must be the sixth sense some of those in the Kitsune race are gifted with that drew him here, or he would not wake up so early in the morning to come here in a ragged state.”
“… I will not deny that I am exhausted, but our ‘sixth sense’ is only a silly myth that some ‘unique’ people had spread about us. I could very well accuse you of being here as well for the same reason if we’re using that as a basis.”
“Though it may be me—the Great Beelzebub!—we are talking about, I do not have, nor do I need this sixth sense to tell me where I go and what to do. I go wherever I please out of my own volition.”
“Then, may I ask, what are you here for, Lady Beelzebub?”
“Imagine how this room would look like without me. Now, compare it with me currently inside it. Does this room not seem more extravagant and prosperous now with my presence included? This room was screaming with gloom and despair moments ago because I was not in it. Because I—the Great Beelzebub!—am such a kind and generous noble, I thought I’d go out of my way and put some of my time and work aside to bless this room with my presence. Be grateful that you have the LUCK needed to run into someone great as me to enlighten the rest of your day.”
“She means she was bored and going insane getting buried in her work and needed a break for a change of pace.”
“Y-You dare misinterpret my noble intentions, Vampire?! I did not need to go out of my way to come here, you know?! I could very well be blessing another noble’s home that deserves my presence much more right now!”
“Oh, well that’s a shame. I have a few fruit tarts from the patisserie near here that I was saving for a special occasion that I couldn’t possibly finish it all by myself, but I suppose I could share it with Konjiro and Gabriella instead.”
“… That patisserie wouldn’t happen to be La Fin Du Crepuscule, would it?”
“The very same.”
“… I suppose I could indulge your desires and take some of those tarts off of your hands.”
“I already ate.”
“I’m fine, Milady.”
With a snap of her fingers, Noire orders one of the cottage’s working maids to prepare the treat for her uninvited guest. In truth, Noire had specially ordered those tarts very recently to help lighten the air for when her assigned adventurers arrive. Knowing one of them was a human, whether or not he knew of her family’s reputation, she wanted to showcase her willingness to cooperate in the dungeon they’d tackle together with good intentions, despite her own selfish motives for setting up this quest, to begin with.
The sudden arrival of one of Noire’s few close friends, Beelzebub, was a pleasant surprise on her part and wished to while away the time she had to wait for the adventurers to come with some form of entertainment. Though other demon nobles and those of high positions like Konjiro are fully aware of how demanding and troublesome she was, Noire, on the other hand, found her antics amusing. She resembles how some characters that were labeled as ‘chuunibyous’ in the ‘books’ she read would behave.
Whenever Noire was at a loss for what to do in her free time, she could always count on Beelzebub to provide decent entertainment, even if it’s at the expense of others around her like Konjiro and Gabriella currently in the room.
“Mmm~! So goooood! Another fine piece of work by Palocaesy’s famous patisserie!” Beelzebub exclaims while eating a piece of the fruit tart delivered to her. The fly wings from her back and antennae jotting out of her light green-colored hair flutter and twitch respectively with delight.
“I am pleased it is to your liking, Lady Beelzebub,” Noire says while bowing in her seat.
“Now, then, while filling this room’s desire of my presence was part of my reason for being here, that is not entirely the case.”
“What else is there?” Konjiro asks with a quirked brow.
“I was aware that Lady Noire was going to challenge a dungeon with adventurers as part of a quest, and a little fly told me they would be arriving today. I was curious to see who would catch her eyes, so I came to see who they are myself.”
Spoken like a true Flyran of the Insectoid race, annoying by buzzing around others’ businesses, Konjiro thinks while calmly drinking tea.
“There was that, as well as checking in on Lady Noire since the last time we talked,” Beelzebub continues before taking a sip of her own tea.
“Check in on me?”
“The day of binding is approaching, is it not? The day when your fate will forever be entwined with another’s. Going by what you have told me, I can’t say I’m all for this arrangement. If someone as great as I were in your place, I would not settle for such a person to be stuck with during the rest of my days, and I know you well and long enough to think the same thing.”
“Even so, I cannot decline Father’s arrangements after everything he and Mother have given to me. For us with this lifestyle, some sacrifices must be made in order to maintain it as well as our image.”
“… Sacrifice, huh? To give up something of yourself for the sake of others. While there are those who see it as a noble act, I find it foolish that only benefits those who forced the choice on the person of interest, dare I say including your parents if they aren’t as ‘noble’ as I first made them out to be.
“Take this fruit tart for example. It is delicious, sweet, tart, creamy, and melty in the mouth. I would eat a hundred of these and I still wouldn’t be satisfied, but the patisserie is benefiting by selling that much to me in their offer. In which case, both of us are more or less happy with the outcome. Now, let’s say that same patisserie stopped making this fruit tart all of a sudden and they cannot sell it anymore, but they’re willing to give me a deal where they’d only give it to yours truly. For every couple of nanaba cream pies they sell to me, I could have one of their delicious fruit tarts for free.”
“That does not seem like a bad deal to me,” Noire comments.
“It would be, except that I hate nanaba cream pies and the fact that I have to buy a couple in order to get one fruit tart is a ludicrous business deal. Could I just toss the pies to get a tart after buying them? I could, but you know how much I hate being wasteful of food, which especially goes against my position as Minister of Agriculture. I can’t even sell it off as part of the deal made by the patisserie. That only leaves giving it away to acquaintances and … well, I—the Great Beelzebub!—with so many followers and acquaintances at my beck and call, do not have the time and energy to do that in my position, especially if I’m not making a profit out of it. I may not be the Minister of Finance, but I’m not a charity worker, either.”
By that, she means she doesn’t have any friends other than me to share the pies with and I’m frankly not a big fan of nanaba cream, either. At least she’s honest about wanting to make a profit out of something, Noire thinks to herself.
“So, that only leaves with two options: agree with the deal and buy their nanaba cream pies, suck it up by eating them all to not let any go to waste, and still be supplied with my favorite fruit tart for the rest of my life, or decline and never get their fruit tarts again. What do you think I would do, Lady Noire?” Beelzebub asks.
“Well … knowing you, you would not comply with such demands, so I guess decline the deal?”
“Exactly! Not just that, either, I would not have business over there ever again!” Beelzebub exclaims while standing from her seat.
“But we are talking about the best patisserie in Palocaesy, right? Maybe even the entire Demon-Kin’s Territory. Would you ever find a place that sells fruit tarts as delicious, if not more so than that one’s?”
“Maybe! It may not even be their fruit tart I would come to love, either! I may try something new that is so good that I would buy a thousand of those compared to a hundred fruit tarts if it were possible! Heck, who said I have to find it? Why not go a step further and run my own patisserie that makes my own fruit tart that tops theirs and then some? One can only remain at the top for so long before someone else pushes them off of their high horse from below, and running them down to the ground, no, to the lowest depths of despair would be the best possible victory for me!” Beelzebub takes a moment to cackle at her cruelly delightful thought.
“Anyway, the point is that I would not know whether what I decide will be right or wrong unless I try! Either way, at least I am going at this with my own freedom and not compromising myself for another’s needs. Whether or not they are better without me is not my concern, and that should be the same for you, Lady Noire.
“Indeed, it is important to remember how far you have gotten with your parents’ support and influence, but even in my lifetime that pales in comparison to yours, I know you enough to see how much you stand out from others in the Krauss family, let alone among other nobles. You were wise and intelligent enough to associate with me, after all. If there ever come a time when you are truly in a bind that you cannot break free from, just scream ‘Please, save me, O Great Beelzebub!’ and I will rush to your side faster than a Harpy with her eyes set on a delectable human male, because if there is one thing that a Beelzebub never does, it’s turning their back on a subordinate’s plea for help.”
“Beelzebub …” It may have been worded a little egocentrically but Noire could tell Beelzebub was trying to give consolation and support in her own way. Even though she was sticking around with Beelzebub for her own selfish and somewhat twisted reasons, it seems her presence meant more to the chuunibyou-like demon noble than she realized.
Noire reaches a hand down to her side where a pouch with a rainbow string is holstered on her hip. Despite the small size, it has a surprisingly large storage space to hold 5,000 kilograms [~11,023 pounds] of objects thanks to the rare materials and necessary magic needed to craft the magical tool that’s hard to come by. It is a step down from the MIB that all Champions are likely found with, appropriately called the Magic Item Pouch (MIP). It’s the likely expensive gear where she carries most of her belongings everywhere, including her precious ruby-cased smartphone that her only other friend gave her as a gift.
I wonder … if she could help me as well, Noire thinks.
Konjiro is also in a state of shock seeing this side of Beelzebub. Finally, Gabriella, who stands at attention fully armored from head to toe like the knight she is, grits her teeth while tightly gripping her armored hand that’s slightly trembling.
Why … was no one there when I needed them most? Gabriella thinks. If spoken aloud, her voice would have a slight shake with great sadness, anger, malice, and dripping with venom as she recalls the time before her arrival in the Demon-Kin’s Territory, the last moments of her humanity that she so despised and everyone who was linked to it.
“Milady.” One of the cottage’s maids interrupts the air in the room for a brief moment while calling out to her mistress. “An unexpected guest has come for some business,” she reports.
Another one? “Who is it?” Noire asks.
“A guild master from Bomira’s adventurer’s guild in the Human-Kin’s Territory, Master Julius.”
Konjiro just barely stopped himself from screaming that aloud, but the increased tension snapped the handle on his teacup right off. The hand Gabriella’s gripping into a fist tightens and trembles even further.
“Ooh~, another pleasant surprise. Do let him in,” Noire permits with a raised pitch in her tone.
“A human, huh? There aren’t many of them around these parts, let alone one from a town so far like Bomira. Do you know him, Lady Noire?” Beelzebub asks.
“I have only heard of him through stories from Eugus and a few other guild masters of the Demon-Kin’s Territory in their previous adventurer days.”
“Erm, Lady Krauss, I really don’t think that letting him in here would be a good idea.”
“I agree with Guild Master Konjiro. We should not let him in here,” Konjiro and Gabriella say with a hint of desperation in their voices.
“Why ever not? Julius sounds quite the delight of a character.” At least for me to drive you two bonkers, Noire thinks to herself while expertly hiding the mischievous smile on her lips with a teacup while sipping blood.
“Myy~, I am pleased such a distinguished lady thinks of me so~.”
“Guh …” Konjiro grunts after hearing the familiar voice of their visitor.
From that, Noire looks up from her seat and widens her eyes at their new human visitor. The man is, in all better senses of the word ‘bright.’ With a rosy pink tuxedo, trousers and top hat over his platinum blonde hair, blending well with his white dress shirt, gloves, cane, and shoes, compared to Konjiro’s oriental robes, the smiling human gentleman stands out as the brightest one in the room with such attire.
“A good morning, and please pardon the intrusion. I am Julius, the guild master that runs the adventurer’s guild in Bomira of the Human-Kin’s Territory. An honor and pleasure to make your acquaintance, Milady,” Julius introduces as he bows with poise.
“And salutations to you as well,” Noire greets while standing and giving a curtsey. I am Noire Scarletine Krauss. You may have a seat next to Konjiro, Julius.”
“Thank you,” he responds before obliging. Konjiro holds no restraint and subtlety in showing his distaste as he quickly scoots as close to one side of the couch as possible while Julius takes the remaining space. He uses the cane between his legs as a support for his hands before turning his head to him. “Konjiro, it has been too long,” Julius greets him.
“… Quite.” Not long enough, though, Konjiro thinks to himself while avoiding eye contact.
Noire, on the other hand, is staring at the two of them intently as she sits across from them. With sheer focus and concentration, one might think she’s making a serious decision at a turning point of her nobility that could determine the rest of her life.
… Juli X Konji, or Konji X Juli? Certainly, Julius’ aggressive nature when pursuing romance would make him the ‘seme,’ and I had seen Konjiro’s disguise a few times, reflecting his human counterpart that would make girls scream ‘uke’; on the other hand, though, the reverse of those roles might also be possible. Julius’ effeminate fashion sense and lean physique really make him the inviting, submissive type, and the thought of Konjiro’s ‘tsun’ taking the lead in his true form while pinning Julius down …
Oh, the struggles of these decisions for a woman of my tastes! Still, I really owe it to her for helping me make these moments more interesting for me to see, and with blood to enjoy it with on the side … truly delicious, indeed.
If one strained their ears hard enough, they could hear Noire’s subtle swallow due to her mouth filling with saliva from her fantasies, something completely unbefitting for a noblewoman.
“… Do you always wear such disgustingly bright clothes?” Beelzebub asks bluntly, just in time to drown out Noire’s subtle swallow.
“Oh, heavens, no. I dressed myself up properly for this occasion. I usually wear what I currently have on underneath this.”
“If you are talking about that tight pink tunic and pants, I personally don’t think you’re doing fashion justice.”
“Oh, my, Konjiro~, to pay that much detail in my attire, are you—”
“Don’t. Even. Try, Julius.”
OH MY GOODNESS, YEEEESS! That flirting! That clash! I could even imagine Julius in those attires and I’m drooling in my mouth! That tears it, Juli X Konji is the true pairing! Only such a daring man could be able to pull off such attire with confidence, and with Konjiro backing away, human disguise or not, he fits the ‘uke’ to the OOMPH! Okay, calm yourself, Noire, you don’t want to get too excited. Just keep this pairing in mind as you get to your coffin tonight and you’ll be sleeping with sweet dreams to the middle of the day tomorrow.
Keeping her thoughts in check, Noire clears her throat. “Anyway, Julius, brings you all the way here in the Demon-Kin’s Territory on your own?”
“Well, I have been meaning to meet with someone after hearing about him coming to Palocaesy and a little birdy told me Konjiro was here, so I thought I’d stop by and say hi.”
“… Meet with someone?” Konjiro asks with a quirked brow.
“The new adventurer we were talking about the other day. When I heard of what he accomplished that time, I couldn’t help but want to see him for myself. So, I asked Charly-baby to watch over the guild for today while I stepped out and used my Transportation Crystal to move here.”
Transportation Crystals, like Messaging Crystals, are magical tools that function similarly with the [Portal] Null Spell as long as the user remembers the location that they’ve last been to. Due to the difficulty of crafting such a convenient item, they’re valued at high prices in the market. One would be lucky to even win this in a lottery or as a reward for clearing a dungeon, the latter case of which was how Julius came across back when he was a regular adventurer. The downside is that depending on the distance from one place to the next, the Transportation Crystal will have to recharge to be used again, and so they can be inactive for as long as until the next day.
“… This ‘new adventurer,’ you say he is coming here in Palocaesy? Today?” Gabriella then asks, putting more effort than necessary to keep her voice from shaking.
Going by the detailed reports, Tyvera didn’t see anyone other than the lone carriage she was observing who likely has our two adventurers Lady Krauss accepted for this quest. It may have been the first one she saw today at an early time, but if there were others behind it, she would tell me. Knowing Julius, if the ‘new adventurer’ he’s seeing is a … as Gabriella connect the dots, she trembles enough that even her black armor starts to rattle.
“Uh oh …” Konjiro mutters, already seeing where this was going. He then starts feeling the fur on his body standing on end.
“Milady, I need to step out for some air.” Without even waiting for Noire’s reply, Gabriella practically sprints out of the room and to the backyard of the cottage. She quickly takes out the yellow Messaging Crystal and channels her mana into it.
<“Oh … Gabriella, this is earlier than usual,”> she responds lightly.
“I need to make sure, but you’ve only been keeping an eye on the carriage where the two adventurers are likely in, right?! There was nobody else behind them?!”
<“Yeah … and honestly, even if there were other carriages behind them, they were likely too far for my Deadeye skill to see in range.”>
If carriages started going at this time of day, they would likely not arrive here from Dondegarm until late evening, and if Julius heard he was coming here today … “Tyvera, change of plans, we’re aborting this quest.”
“Lord Rowling provided a forged message of Lady Krauss’ sister suddenly falling ill as a lifeline in case there’s any suspicion that the adventurers she accepted may prove to be a threat to his plans. I need you back here to pretend you just hand-delivered it to me so that we can get Lady Krauss out of here immediately. Don’t ask why. I just need you back here now.”
“Tyvera? What’s wrong?”
<“I was not familiar with this ‘forged message’ of a lifeline of yours. Did Lord Rowling give that and those instructions to you while I was out?”>
“Yes, that’s right. You know as well as I do how careful he is with these things, now quit dawdling and get over here!”
A long hiss through the teeth can be heard through the crystal. <“Yeeeaaaaah, slight problem with that.”>
“What’s the problem?”
<“You wanna hear the good news or the bad news first?”>
“… The good news?”
<“So, funny you should mention me getting back to Palocaesy immediately because I’m already here.”>
“… A-And the bad news?”
<“See … I got caught. I’m being bound by the assigned adventurers’ party, Guild Master Eugus is along with them, they all heard everything you just said about the forged message just now, and we’re approaching Lady Krauss’ residence as we speak. You all heard that, right? Yep, they’re nodding, they heard it all.”>
“Tyera, if this is a cruel joke you’re making, I am not in the mood for that right now.”
<“Oh, you can take it from me that this is no joke, Ms. Gabriella.”>
The sudden new voice, deep, masculine, slightly condescending, and powerful that interrupted the conversation just now sends shivers down the Dark Knight Dullahan’s spine.
“… Who. Is. This?”
<“How about you give Lady Krauss this message instead of the one Rowling forged: Jinma Kotori and Twilight Sky have arrived, and we have much to discuss.”>
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Hello and welcome. You may call me Orange Rain, and I looooove orange soda.
I not only like to read novels of many kinds, but I also like to write them. The stories published here will be in webnovel.com as well, so if you can, I'd appreciate it if you could support me on both platforms. I also like to read any professional critiques people may have on my works in order for me to become a better writer.
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