Suleiman wet his lips with his tongue. He had defeated the Hungarians as fast as he could, not caring about the expenditure of ammo despite having a tough battle ahead at the capital. Haste makes waste, but it was a cost he was willing to pay to help Alice as soon as possible, but when he finally had the time to check on her condition, it turned out she didn’t even need his assistance. A devil, a true devil with horns and purple eyes was watching him. Behind her, there were the twelve members of the church sent to capture Alice. They were standing with expressions similar to children who were chastised for stealing cookies. As for Alice, she seemed to know the devil.
“Is this one of the companions you were searching for?” Suleiman asked, nodding and smiling at Tafel. “Alice spoke a lot about you.”
“Oh? Really?” Tafel asked, raising an eyebrow. “What king of things did she say?”
Suleiman glanced at Alice. It didn’t seem like the angel was going to stop him. Perhaps she wanted him to tell the devil her thoughts? “She said you’re very insecure despite your abilities, and she admires you for chasing your dreams despite the fact you’ll never be able to achieve them.”
“What the heck!?” Tafel and Alice asked at the same time. Tafel glared at Alice, and Alice glared at Suleiman. The guild master stomped her foot. “Since when did I tell you that!?”
Suleiman swallowed and shrank back. He was the leader of an empire, but he felt like a child when faced with the stares of a devil and an angel. “W-well,” he said and adjusted the collar of his uniform. “You didn’t tell it to me, but you told it to Burc while I happened to be listening.”
“Is that what you really think about me?” Tafel asked, scowling at Alice. “And who’s this Burc person? Why are you sharing so much personal stuff with him? Should I tell Mr. Skelly?”
“Burc is a cat,” Alice said and snorted. “Besides! I really do think it’s admirable you want to beat Vur in a fight, but you and I both know it’s never going to happen, and if it does, it’ll be because he went easy on you because you’re his wife. Also, I thought you knew what I thought about you? And it’s not just me who thinks that! Don’t look at me like that.”
Tafel pursed her lips. “Who else thinks I’m insecure?”
“Stella, Sheryl, Zilphy, Mistle,” Alice said, ticking off the names with her fingers. “I’m pretty sure Diamant thinks it as well but never expressed it.” She cleared her throat. “Anyway, speaking of those people, we should do our best to find them to return home, yeah?” She nudged Tafel with her elbow. “So, what’s the plan? Let me see the Supreme Ruler Who Stands Above All in action. Oh, right. This is Suleiman, by the way. He’s the leader of the Ottomans.”
Tafel sighed and crossed her arms over her chest. “Hello,” she said, nodding at Suleiman. “I’m Tafel, the empress of the Holy Roman Empire. Sorry if I seem insecure to you.”
Suleiman cleared his throat. “No, no,” he said and waved his hand in front of himself. “I can tell you’re a very confident individual. It must be my mistake. I learned German many years ago, and I think I picked the wrong words. Let me try again in a language I’m more comfortable with. Do you speak Turkish?”
Suleiman let out an awkward chuckle and glanced at Alice, his eyes begging her for help. She pretended not to notice. He sighed. His angel had failed him. After clearing his throat, Suleiman asked, “Are you here because I attacked Hungary?”
“Truth be told, I was supposed to arrive long before you attacked,” Tafel said. “However, that wimpy guy didn’t listen to me and decided to fight you, it seems? Anyway, I don’t really care that you attacked Hungary. I only conquered it to expand my territory to search for my companions better—I’m assuming you know what I’m talking about because of Alice. How about this? I’ll give you Hungary since you seem to really want it, and you’ll expand southward to help me find my remaining friends.”
Suleiman raised an eyebrow. “Between the two of you,” he said, his eyes shifting from Tafel to Alice and back to Tafel, “who’s stronger?”
“I am,” Tafel said.
“Alright,” Suleiman said and clapped his hands together once. He smiled at Tafel. “We have a deal. Tell me, which companions haven’t you found yet?”
“The two dragons.”
Suleiman’s smile froze. A tiny wrinkle appeared on his forehead as he turned his face towards Alice. “Dragons?” he asked, still smiling with a stiff expression. “I don’t recall you mentioning any dragons.”
“Didn’t I?” Alice asked. “I said I was looking for two big lizards since I couldn’t find the right word for dragons in Turkish.” Her eyes lit up. “Is that why you gave me those lizards?”
“Yes,” Suleiman said and let out an awkward laugh. “I thought you were feeding Burc exotic foods.”
Alice scratched her nose. “Oh, well, Burc did enjoy eating them.” She looked around. “Speaking of which, where is he? I thought I left him with you.”
“I think the sounds of our bombards spooked him,” Suleiman said. “After we fired a few rounds, he jumped off my horse and disappeared.”
Alice sighed. “Looks like we’ll have to find him,” she said and raised an eyebrow at Tafel. “Doesn’t this remind you of your first adventuring days? The first mission I ever took was finding a lost cat. I think I was ten at the time.”
“I never took a mission like that,” Tafel said and furrowed her brow. “I think I collected fairy tears for my first one when I was five or six years old.”
Alice stared at Tafel.
“No, it’s nothing,” Alice said and shook her head. “Well, now you get to experience the joys of being a novice adventurer. Help me find my cat. He’s white and fluffy.”
“Found him,” Tafel said.
“Huh?” Alice blinked and looked around. “Where?”
“Right there,” Tafel said and pointed.
Alice’s gaze followed Tafel’s finger. “That’s a cloud,” she said and rolled her eyes. “I bet you think you’re hilarious, huh?”
“I don’t think it; I know it.”