When the ritual was finished, Ms. Carmen made Tyvera’s certificate like she did for Ren’s and Erizora’s before taking measurements for her own maid uniform—without her being aware of what we’re taking them for as part of a surprise. I took the opportunity to open my Slaves page and set her ‘Confession’ and ‘Control’ settings down to 1 and 0, respectively, making it so that while she can’t lie, she can still move at her own will. Since she had been so cooperative up to this point despite how we met, I thought she deserved that much and will inform her on that later.
Ms. Carmen wrote me a copy to use on my own time, and by then, our business was done. Tyvera got her top back on before we called the other guys back inside. Ms. Carmen then packed her things in [Storage] before taking off through her own [Portal] back to Dondegarm. Lady Krauss thanked her for the time and even provided a good-quality mana potion to restore her reserves after making it back. With that, Ms. Carmen bid Ren and Erizora, slaves who were previously under her family’s protection, a farewell and wished the newly marked slave under my care, Tyvera, the best of luck. Ms. Carmen reminded me of our deal we made in the kitchen and said to come to her for any questions and services for slave-related matters, so long as it’s within her ‘capabilities,’ which is probably another way of saying her comfort, which makes sense considering where she is right now.
I remembered the strange issue that came up at Dondegarm’s church yesterday when Ren fell into the regressed ailment and somehow acquired a Trained [Sex] Pet title after getting ‘domesticated and trained.’ I glanced over to Ren and saw she sat on her seat cushion by the knees in a seiza pose, but then I remembered how she retrieved one of the falling fliers earlier like a dog fetching a newspaper. Then there were the few comments she made on the way here that had me questioning if that was part of her instincts as a Werewolf or if it was a sort of side-effect on the pet-related title.
As much as I wanted to inform Ms. Carmen of this strange development to get to the bottom of things, that wasn’t the best time and place to discuss it, and for the most part, Ren seemed to look fine, both by appearance and from what I could see from the ‘mini-status’ floating above her head. Unless I see something worsening in her later down the line, I’ll bring it up to Ms. Carmen as soon as I can.
With that, Ms. Carmen bid farewell and cast [Portal] before stepping through and closing the way behind her.
“Well! We have certainly been through a lot today, have we not? And it is almost noon,” Lady Krauss points out. “You and your party must have been through quite a bit this morning to get here and I am sure you all would want to get to know your new addition as soon as possible. How about we call it a day here and we will go over dungeon preparations along with our battle capabilities tomorrow?”
“Is that really okay, Lady Krauss? Ume and I were told that we should expect to start the dungeon crawl the next day we got here,” I point out, to which Ume nods in confirmation.
“Well, considering the unusual circumstances revolving around this, some of which that even I was not aware of until today, I know I would be asking for much if I expect you and your party to be prepared for the dungeon crawl the next day, even with the extra time you are given after arriving here so early. Moreover, I need to make a letter to my family in Korangar to inform them about the current situation about my … ‘association’ with Rowling.”
“That’s understandable. We are grateful for your generosity to give us this extra time to rest, Lady Krauss,” I say while bowing my head to her. Ume quickly follows my example in succession.
“Please, be at ease with the formalities. As we will be working together to clear the dungeon, I would like us to be on common ground in hopes that we could cooperate more in sync. That said, Jinma, I would like you and your wife, Umeiyon, was it? To join me for dinner tonight.”
““Huh?!”” some of the people in the room respond in shock. Even Ume and I are also at a loss for words.
“I am very curious to know how you and your party came together, especially so on the feats you have achieved like subjugating monsters in Eeriegreen Forest on your own. I would love to hear some of your adventures up to now. Would you do me this one selfish request?” Lady Krauss’ eyes as she asked that question look to be filled with hope and wonder. Paired off with her youthful appearance in gothic lolita attire, she’s almost like a kid asking their parent for a bedtime story.
Just how much of an exception is she among other nobles? I think. Considering how much Beelzebub is looking at me with suspicion right now, I don’t think I should expect this kind of treatment from other nobles of the Demon-Kin. Going by my Intuition, Lady Krauss seems genuinely interested in my stories.
If possible … I’d like to get to know her as well without stepping too far out of line.
A scaly hand interlocking me by the fingers grab my attention and I look over to Ume. She gives a gentle smile and a light nod.
“… If you don’t mind, Lady Krauss, then we would be more than happy to accept,” I answer while turning back to her.
“Wonderful!” Lady Krauss exclaims while clapping her hands in glee. “Then I will make the necessary arrangements posthaste!”
With our time of meeting set and what we should wear confirmed—she was fine with us coming in as we were since we had no formal clothes for this occasion—Lady Krauss walked our party out the door and bid us off with waves and smiles, the latter was accompanied by tinted cheeks on her face. Ume and I waved back as we walked, and even when our backs are turned, I could still feel her eyes on us … on me in particular.
<“Dude … she totally has the hots for you. You know that, right? I don’t think you even need my Psyche Magic to confirm that,”> Nyra says.
Even if that is true, so what? She’s a noble, I’m a commoner. She’s in politics and government, I want nothing in either of those. After this is over, she’ll likely be kept busy with her noble duties or whatever in her own home while I’m doing my own thing that involves traveling. Finally, and this is the deal-breaker here, she’s engaged.
<“Not for loong~, didn’t you hear about how Lady Krauss needed to write a letter to her parents about her ‘association’ with Rowling? I may not have been a noble in my previous body, but I know that’s girl talk for ‘I’m dropping this bitch so come and let me be yours.’ And besides, you can’t deny your own feelings on this matter. Don’t think I didn’t notice you trying to avoid popping one when you first set your eyes on her. If you have your eyes on someone, you gotta put in the work to make her yours. Steal her away from her fiancé, show how much more of a man you are than him, girls dig that. Demon girls, anyway, not that I have seen a lot as I was stuck in hiding with the other Pixies for a fraction of my lifetime, but since we are of the Demon-Kin and yours truly has probably gotten more guys and girls than a brothel might rake in daily, then I know what I’m talking about.”>
… Putting my own feelings aside, there’s still the safety of my party, my family, that I have to consider. From what Lili told us of this Rowling guy, I think we’re already in hot water enough to anticipate the possibility of him sending more people from the disciples’ party out to get us, whether or not I end up taking her away. In which case, I may need to power up more and get some better gear for my party. Oh! Now that I think about it, Tyvera was a part of them, maybe she can tell us who we should keep on the lookout for.
<“I mean, sure, we’ll probably need to prepare for that but come on! If he’s gonna get you anyway, you might as well go all the way. Don’t you humans get excited over that ‘forbidden love between social status’ shtick?”>
“Well, all things considered, I thought that turned out quite well,” Ume says, interrupting what I was about to retort to Nyra. “Lady Krauss seemed nicer than I had expected.”
“The Krauss family head, Ramone Silshire Krauss, is the Minister of Defense and Weaponry,” Sue then says. “Sure, there are plenty of illegal activities that still go on in the streets and back alleys, but fights between us demons, even arena battles that put lives on the line are more commonplace here than you might think. When it comes to the entireties of cities in the Demon-Kin’s Territory, their defenses are top-notch if a sudden great threat is brought upon them, such as a Wyvern attack or an incoming Mass Monster Swarm. Not only that, but we have adventurers who are also available to fend off those threats on a daily basis.
“We may be of kin that likes to keep ‘personal businesses’ to ourselves that are usually settled with fists, but when the need arises, the Krauss’ head knows how to act accordingly in emergencies. He puts the safety of our territory’s citizens on a higher priority than others might think, and so it would make sense that he would teach such consideration and generosity to his two daughters, Noire Scarletine Krauss, and Isabelle Silvine Krauss, along with how to hold their ground and fend for themselves. I like to think their family sets a good example of what kind of people nobles should be.”
“You uh … seem to know a lot about them, Sue,” I mention, surprised by such knowledge as others in our group.
“W-Well, you know, Korangar is my birthplace, so of course I’d know at least some noble households that reside in it. The Krausses are just that well-renown among us, after all,” Sue says before laughing both awkwardly and nervously.
I don’t know why, but while Sue is telling the truth, my Intuition skill is tickling me that there’s more to it for some reason, but before I could contemplate further …
“How about we put the serious political stuff aside for now and get you all a nice inn to stay for the time being? I’ve frequented Palocaesy myself, and while I admit there are some who don’t take kindly to humans as others, there are plenty of human-friendly establishments that would be more than welcome to have someone of your stature in their building, Jinma,” Julius says with an arm over my shoulder, getting more up close and personal than I expected.
Evidently, Julius decided to leave at the same time so he could show us a little of what Palocaesy has to offer. I admit that this guy’s being a little too friendly for my standards at first meeting, considering my history of others I came across that I wind up beating not too long later, but it’s kind of comforting to have at least one other human in our group nearby, and he’s a guild master from the Human-Kin’s Territory, no less, so his words must have at least some credibility, right?
“I was planning to suggest a few inns myself, but since it is Julius … while it would make sense to rely on another human to guide another, I cannot help but feel somewhat anxious,” Eugus suddenly mutters in the latter half that I can hear clearly.
… Well, if something happens, I’ll just not hold back and beat him down to a pulp like usual. With that decision in mind, we follow Julius to see and explore what the city of Palocaesy has in store.
From the front door, Noire continues to watch Jinma’s back as it grows smaller with a gentle smile on her face, sighing dreamily through her nose.
“Lady Noire,” Beelzebub (or Margaret as she’s really named) says from behind.
“Are you sure this is all right? Dinner? Taking him on as your escort without even knowing what he can do? Being that bold with the Harpy right in front of us? Not to mention that he’s a human above all else.”
“I am failing to see the problem, Lady Beelzebub. I was aware of his race when Eugus informed me and Jinma’s even more interesting than I had hoped for. I cannot wait for dinner to come sooner to learn more about him.”
“… Lady Noire, I think there’s something wrong with you. This is the first I’ve actually seen you smile like this.”
“Am I really?” Noire then feels her face, taking note of her flexed cheek muscles as well as their warmth. “Huh, so I am. Oh! I forgot to treat them to the fruit tarts! Well, I suppose we can set them aside for tonight’s dessert at the least and let them have the rest afterward.”
“I suppose I should be heading off as well. I’ll come back tomorrow for the briefing of the dungeon crawl,” Konjiro says as he makes his way to the door. “Will you be notifying your family of your ‘personal affairs?’”
“As soon as possible by a reliable messenger Harpy, of course.”
“I see … well then, I bid you a good day.” Konjiro then steps out and walks to another direction where Palocaesy’s adventurer’s guild resides.
“Now, then, what to do with you,” Noire then says as she goes back inside and directs her attention to Gabriella.
“I don’t think I need to mention where I stand in all of this. Do what you will, I refuse to cooperate with that man. There’s nothing that will make me change my mind when I’m already brought this low.”
“Oh, really~? Now that I think about it, there may be other things Rowling has also informed you of without me knowing. It would be wise that we force them out of you. Do you not agree, Lady Beelzebub?”
“I want no part of this.” Beelzebub then backs away with hands up.
“Y-You already figured everything out! There’s nothing left of what Lord Rowling told me that you don’t know!” Gabriella exclaims, sounding desperate.
“As Dear Father once taught me, one can never be too sure when dealing with traitors.” Noire’s smile that was full of love and joy moments ago has now turned into one of malice and spite. Truthfully, Noire’s own trained Intuition has hinted her that there are one or two things Gabriella is still hiding from her. Though they may be minuscule, a part of her may reason that it isn’t wrong to pull whatever she could out of her traitor.
In reality, though, Noire wants nothing more than to torture the traitor out of her own enjoyment. Whether it’s Gabriella or even Rowling in the Dullahan’s place, she wants something to vent out the frustrations that the arranged marriage to the latter had brought her in the first place. One annoyance after another, they brought her closer to the boiling point that her ‘noblewoman’s mask’ could no longer hide. That’s how tense she is right now, and she’s glad her new ‘interest’ isn’t around to see this side of her.
Gabriella, who had been silent and watching throughout most of the meeting already had some idea of what was developing between Noire and Jinma, and somewhere within the deepest depths of her undead heart, she actually wished the man would stick around a little more so her inevitable fate would be delayed further.
“Prepare the traitor’s body for severe interrogation procedures. Oh, and get preparations for tonight’s dinner for four started,” Noire orders before the maids nearby immediately got to work without further questioning. It wouldn’t be long before a woman’s screams could be heard from below the floors of the peaceful-looking cottage on a beautiful sunny day.
Meanwhile, when the Kitsune guild master Konjiro got far enough away from Noire’s residence and hides in an alleyway, he reaches into the chest of his robe and pulls out a purplish-black crystal before applying his mana into it.
“Milord, are you there?”
<“I am listening.”>
“I know it is early but I have come in contact with the adventurer. It seems we have a human male assigned to escort Lady Krauss in the dungeon. Moreover, the two of them have found out about both of your ‘emergency’ and ‘quest abortion’ plans.”
“Lady Krauss will be sending a message to her family by Harpy messenger about putting your engagement into question. What is your next course of action?”
Rowling sighs from his end. <“This would be so much easier if she was more cooperative, but she has ignored my propositions for the last time. I will take care of handling the messenger issue, I already have someone in Palocaesy on standby for immediate course of action.”>
“And then what?”
<“We will be setting the stage for a ‘tragic accident’ on Noire Scarletine Krauss, her human escort, and his accompanying party during their dungeon crawl. It may be delayed, but I will have to set my sights on Isabelle Silvene Krauss to be one step closer to become the family head. Afterward … we will initiate our plan for my ascension of the family head seat to be certain. I will contact you later for further details while you tell me more about what you know of this human escort and his party.”>
“Very good, Milord.” With his slit eyes open and a conniving smile spread across his maw, Konjiro’s connection with his ‘lord’ through the high-leveled Messaging Crystal is cut before he restrains from snickering to himself, his yellow foxtail wags with malevolent glee.
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Hello and welcome. You may call me Orange Rain, and I looooove orange soda.
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