The magic beast Cockatrice was safely subjugated by the group of black knights. When Joachim who dealt with the remnants had used wizardry and was burning the Cockatrice and the Lesser Demon corpses, Galet joined them with a clearly disappointed expression.
And like this, the party that completed the mission laughed brightly like nothing happened as they entered the road back.
It was about the evening time. Mira was having a late snack in Arkite Castle’s office by the way of giving a report. As for Solomon, he was reading through the report Joachim had written on the way back and also interjected on Mira’s own report.
“Lesser Demon cursing a Cockatrice. Certainly, within these thirty years I haven’t heard of anything like that. Rather, it’s been ten years since the last time Lesser Demons appeared.”
“Is that so. What was that, I wonder? I thought it would disperse, but there came the plot twist.”
“Well, thanks for your hard work.”
The past and now, between those two there were countless large differences. While for Mira some things might be new, they could be well-known facts in this world. However, the grudge cursing a living being was something Solomon heard of for the first time.
“Lesser Demons, huh. I wonder where do they come from.”
Placing the report he finished reading on the desk, Solomon muttered in thought.
“I wonder myself, too. Nothing good ever comes out when they are related, mm.”
“Right? In any case, we need to find where they come from before it turns into something weird.”
“Hmm, where they come from, huh.”
Heaving a sigh Solomon reseated himself deep in the chair, and Mira too, leaned strongly on the sofa as she groaned in thought. Back when it was a game, Lesser Demons only appeared during some quests. Most of quests related to them ended with a bad end.
While trying to recall their source in the past, Mira stuffed her cheeks with cookie snacks.
And when she poured tea inside her mouth full of cookies, a certain person’s image appeared in her head.
“Oh right, what was that man’s name again…?”
“Nn, you mean who?”
Although she recalled the person she did not remember the name and furrowed her eyebrows as it was on the tip of her tongue. Seeing Mira have as hard time remembering names as always, Solomon felt nostalgic as he asked back.
“Come on, the guy who chased around after Lesser Demons while holding large amounts of holy water, the NPC devil researcher guy.”
“Aahhh, you mean Howard.”
“That’s right, that one!”
When Solomon spoke the name she forgot, Mira pointed her finger holding half-eaten cookie at him and nodded confirming it was correct.
“Hmm, but didn’t he die already? When he first appeared he was already quite old, after all.”
Howard, a man who researched everything about devils. He was an aloof old guy who treated people to medicinal tea poured with holy water.
“Is that so. I thought he might know something, mm.”
Hearing that fact Mira lost her momentum but her hand carrying cookies to her mouth did not stop. Then suddenly, another idea came to her head.
“If he’s gone, then how about that. There’s the mirror that lets you talk with the dead.”
“Ahh, the Dark Aid’s Mirror. But to speak with the target that thing requires some kind of strong connection or an item belonging to deceased that had a sliver of their thoughts in them.”
“Hmm-mm, is that so.”
She could not say that doing a quest together was a strong connection, and they had nothing of his. Mira sulkily sipped some tea and allowed her gaze to wander dazedly.
“Speaking of which, there was a quest where a mirror was cursed.”
“There was. If I’m not wrong, you met Howard in the middle of it.”
“Yeah, that. He suddenly poured holy water on me.”
With the Dark Aid’s Mirror as the keyword, Solomon started to recall the nostalgic age. The two continued to have fun for a while, talking about memories.
Suddenly Solomon had recalled something and raised his voice, to which Mira responded with “What happened?”.
“Luminaria’s entrance interrupted our talk, right, about you searching the rest.”
“Speaking of which, we did talk about something like that.”
Who, and how to look for them. When they were about to speak about it, Luminaria had suddenly entered the office. Recalling that, Mira poured tea from the pot, took off her boots and extended her legs on the sofa in preparation for a long battle.
“So, I’m fine with looking for them, but do you know where are they? We can’t catch them without a clue.”
Just as Mira said, the Nine Sages were a gathering of oddballs. Most likely, they just wander around whimsically. Their location was something only they themselves knew.
She was told to find them, but how was she even supposed to search a bunch vagabonds? While tilting the tea cup, Mira made an excuse that she has yet to get used to this reality, leaving everything to Solomon.
“The Dark Aid’s Mirror. When you mentioned I recalled something, you remember where the mirror was, right? There’s one guy’s location that can be predicted.”
Told so, Mira started thinking, She recalled that the Dark Aid’s Mirror was in the underground of some temple, and a certain person’s image passed by her head.
“I see, you mean Soul Howl, right.”
“Soul Howl the Great Wall" was the Elder of the Tower of Necromancy, a guy who loved undead girls to abnormal extent.
Inside a dungeon called by players “underground cemetery”, the “Ancient Temple Nevrapolis", there is the Dark Aid’s Mirror. In the past when they adventured there, Soul Howl called that place a paradise. That dungeon filled with large number of undead monsters was truly a holy land to him.
If he was online but not in the tower, it was a potential location worth checking for Soul Howl.
“And while you go, you might as well see if you can talk to Howard as you search it, there is nothing to lose.”
“Hmm, then maybe I should bring lots of Holy Water with me.”
“Good idea, in a way, that’s an item that represents him.”
The two said and laughed to each other. It was something a normal person would not understand, a point only players found funny.
“Still, the underground cemetery is quite far, mm. It would be another thing if I could use the flying island though.”
“That’s something that you...no, I’ll give you full support. With that said, it’s a top secret mission so we can’t use Long-Distance Carriage or a Housing Carriage.”
Solomon tried to say something, but stopped and continued, saying that he will not spare support. Allowing her to realize it herself sounded more fun. In his heart, Solomon’s wished for Mira to enjoy the world he already lived in for thirty years.
“Long-Distance Carriage? Housing carriage? What are these?”
“Ahh, the Long-Distance Carriage is the carriage you were riding on the way here. It was quite fast, right? It uses spell braces to decrease the burden on horses to the limit, you see. They are our country’s fastest carriages.”
Saying so pridefully, Solomon puffed up his chest with a smile.
“It was certainly fast, hmm. Not as fast as flying islands, however.”
“It’s better if you forget about that cheat item. I can tell now, but that was against rules.”
Solomon was correct calling it a cheat considering that Flying Continents were moving as fast as planes.
Even the armored jeep which was the crystallization of magic engineering could even remotely compare. And the jeep was so inefficient when it came to fuel, that it used Magic-Sealing Stones like they were water. Therefore, carriages were used as main method of travel and transport in this world.
“Housing Carriage is not as fast as long-distance one, but we put effort into adding residence space inside it. Simply speaking, it’s a carriage version of a camping car.”
“Hooh, that sounds nice.”
While sipping tea, Mira imagined herself lying in bed, sipping Apple au Lait and watching the scenery outside move while the carriage gently pressed forward.
“By all means I would love to ride on that Housing Carriage.”
“Well, I’ll let you someday.”
“Ehh, you’re so stingy. You could let me ride it at least to the underground cemetery.”
“I wish I could do that, but like I said earlier, this is a top secret mission. Long-Distance Carriage and Housing Carriage are both specially made. They are used for things that involve the country, welcoming royalty and such. Most likely whenever you go with it, you will gather lots of attention.”
"...I’d rather pass on that.”
“Right? Well, I will prepare a normal carriage for you.”
“Mm-hm, got it.”
Mira nodded and threw a cookie in her mouth.
But next instant, the office’s door opened with a strong momentum surprising her and making her choke a little.
“Mission - complete!”
The one who appeared along with the voice, was Luminaria whose burning-red hair fluttered as she struck a pose. Glaring at her with with annoyance, Mira sipped some tea.
Solomon raised one hand and said words of appreciation, then lowered his gaze back at the map on top of the desk to reconfirm the remaining four locations where monster herds appeared. The reports of mission completion had yet to come from these places and combat still continued. However, that was not a problem. If anything, Mira and Luminaria were just too fast.
“Oh, you’re already back. And here I thought I’d be first.”
When Luminaria closed the door and raised her voice when she saw Mira sip tea with tears in her eyes.
“It was close. If you came an hour earlier you would win.”
“An hour, ehh. That’s just the difference in transport.”
As she sat down on the edge of the office desk, Luminaria did not seem as disappointed as she tried to look.
“You were driving the armored jeep, right? How was it?”
She made a clearly knowing expression as she asked. Mira drank up all of tea from the cup and stared at Luminaria’s face hatefully.
“You need to ask? The lack of seatbelts is a clear defect. Also, you need to send Galet on a driving course.”
Mira threw her gaze at Solomon while saying this half-jokingly, but half dead-serious.
“Right? See, I told you. You need to put seatbelts in.”
“Hmm, all right. I’ll think of it.”
Solomon nodded with a reluctant expression and from the office desk’s drawer he pulled out a camouflage-patterned helmet.
“And here I thought a tank helmet would be more interesting.”
He muttered and put on the tank helmet, and while he sulked, he also looked somewhat proud.
“By the way, about that.”
Starting another topic like that, Solomon pulled out a piece of paper from documents on top of the desk and like a child pestering parents for things, he drew close to Mira.
“I want a fair number of Energy-Refined Stones and Magic-Sealing Stones for even better usage of armored jeep and for Accord Cannon’s experiments. I have all needed materials prepared!”
He said and on the paper he extended, written in detail were the types and numbers required. Solomon’s expression was very lively because aside from national interest, magic engineering also involved his own hobbies.
“Mm-hm. That’s quite a lot. So, what kind of grade of Magic-Sealing Stones do you need?”
Mira said after glancing at the piece of paper she received, making Solomon make an even more sparkling smile.
“The higher rank the better, but numbers are most important. Ah, but it would be good if we had about five of Grade 3.”
The rank of Magic-Sealing Stones corresponded to the extent of power that had been inserted into them. Grade 1 was the highest grade and Grade 7 was the lowest. Because the limit depended on the materials, and Grade 1 Magic-Sealing Stones’ base materials were quite scarce.
“Well, I don’t mind. But in such case it would be faster to go back to the tower. If it’s Energy-Refined Stones, then I had left more than I could possibly use in the storage. I also had a fair amount of Energy-Refined Crystals and Energy-Refined Magic Crystals, as well as Magic-Sealing Stones stored away.”
“As expected of you. If you came back earlier, the Type-10 might have become reality already.”
The production of Magic-Sealing Stones deeply influenced the advancement of magic engineering. What Solomon said was not an exaggeration and if he had the stock of energy-refined goods from Energy-Refining techniques’ creator they would have been one or two stages further.
“If you needed them, then you should have just asked Mariana. Even if I’m not here, Mariana can still enter the storage, after all. I left all item management to her.”
In order to enter the storage that is inside the Elder’s personal quarters it was necessary to enter the apartment first, but the only ones who could enter it were that tower’s Elder and aide.
“Actually...you see. There was this one time, we did ask her if there are Energy-Refined Stones and Magic-Sealing Stones in the storage, and if we could have a few.”
Solomon said with a bitter smile, then turned around with a twirl and sat down on the sofa.
“Is that so. So what, did you use them all up?”
“Ahhh...well, see. She wouldn’t listen at all. Even if it was me she wouldn’t give away a single thing of yours. You will definitely come back, so her duty is to protect the place so that you aren’t inconvenienced once you return. ...When she said this in tears, I just couldn’t order her to do it.”
“Yeah, I was there back then too, but seeing that stubbornness it felt like she intended to protect it with her life.”
“Is that so…"
Hearing the two’s words, Mira once again thought of Mariana who had been waiting for a long time for Mira’s return.
(“At the very least, I should tell Mariana.”)
The image of the girl with sapphire-like pretty hair casting her eyes down had passed through Mira’s head. Most likely the only who could make her raise those eyes was Mira herself. Leaving a girl crying like that, was far from Mira’s image of an ideal man. After realizing this, Mira resolved herself to reveal she was Danbulf to Mariana the next time they meet. She had engraved this in her heart as something far more important than the temporary shame.
“Well, that’s how it is. What’s in the storage I leave for your judgement. For the time being, the amount I mentioned earlier is enough. I’ll guide you to the Energy-Refining room later.”
“Mm-hm. Then I’ll make them before sleeping.”
“That line, if this place’s Energy-Refining technicians heard it, they’d faint on spot.”
Luminaria who was sitting on top of the desk supported her body with her both hands and twisted her upper body to the side, before speaking with a really happy expression. The Energy-Refining technicians in the castle was constantly busy with work, be it day or night. If such people saw Mira’s speed at Energy-Refining, it was possible they could fall into a state beyond recovery.
"...I’ll have materials and Energy-Refining Board carried in to your bedroom.”
Imagining that sight, Solomon asked Mira to do Energy-Refining alone in secret, to which she responded with “I don’t mind." and put the tea cup on the table.
“Still, you know. It might be better if you turned self-sufficient, right?”
“Well, that would be for the best, but it seems like they are having hard time improving their technique, and the production barely keeps up. Do you have some good method maybe?”
Solomon looked at Mira with expectation filling his eyes.
“Well, depends on their efforts. Got some paper and a pen?”
“Yup, um. Here.”
He picked up a fountain pen from on top of the desk, and from a shelf of the desk he took out a sheet of parchment, then passed those to Mira.
“Wait a moment.”
She took those and spread them on top of the table, then started to draw symbols and letters on the parchment.
“Well, it’d be something like this. Show it to those Energy-Refining technicians of yours later.”
“Hmmm. What’s this, I can’t understand a single thing of it.”
Snatching away the parchment from Mira, Luminaria scowled upon seeing the figures and symbols drawn there. Then she quickly raised a white flag and pushed the parchment onto Solomon.
“This is...hmm. I can tell it’s related to Energy-Refining, but that’s all. I have to show it to them, right? Understood.”
“Mm-hm, take care of it.”
The figures and symbols that Mira wrote down on the parchment were a composition of a new Energy-Refining Board that she had been considering and researching for a while already. She drew it hastily so she abbreviated details and wrote some special notes on the margins instead.
No one in this moment would even imagine that this parchment would eventually have a large role in causing a rapid advancement of magic engineering.
“Noow then, about the search. I arranged a carriage for you so you can head out to underground cemetery tomorrow morning.”
Said Solomon, took off his tank helmet and put it carefully back inside the drawer.
“That’s fast, hmm? I was thinking of resting a few days.”
Mira stretched grandly, using her entire body to appeal she’s tired.
“Really? Then will you stay here for a little longer? I was thinking for your sake when I quickly prepared it, however.”
“For my sake, you say?”
She cast a suspicious stare at Solomon, unable to find any reason why would it be good for her to leave as soon as possible.
“Yup. But you remaining here for a while would definitely make our maids happy, though to you that would not turn out too happily.”
“What’s that? What do you mean?”
“See, I heard from the chief maid. Seeing your robe made inspiration gush forth inside them or something, and now all maids have mobilized to make your clothes.”
First Solomon made a very amused smile, next Luminaria started to grin and said “good for you" then laughed.
“Tomorrow, I depart at daybreak.”
“Heheheh. All right, I’ll pass it on.”
There was no way clothes made after receiving inspiration from that wannabe mahou shoujo outfit would be anything decent. Mira decided to escape as quickly as possible.
“They must have really strange tastes…"
Mira said, astounded from the bottom of her heart and stood up.
“Behind that door.”
When she asked, Solomon pointed at a small door in the corner of the office.
“I’ll borrow it.”
With that said she hurried to open the door and enter the room ahead. On top of the table there was the emptied tea pot and several remaining cookies.
“Looks like when you’re a king, you even get a toilet that looks like hundred thousand.”
Once she returned from the restroom after a while, Mira briskly said a very plebeian line. That moment, she was instantly captured by Luminaria who had a refreshing smile on her face.
“Then next, let’s go to the bath that looks like a million.”
And carried under Luminaria’s arm, Mira was taken to the great bath.
Once she came out of the bath, Mira, Solomon and Luminaria had a dinner together. After which they moved back to the office to chat as friends, having fun until late.
Eventually, when Solomon’s military lectures started to rear its head, Mira let out a soft yawn.
“Oh, it’s already this late.”
Seeing Mira get sleepy, Luminaria confirmed current time. It was nearly time for the date to change.
“Time sure flies fast.”
Mira also checked time the same way, sipped some of the Apple au Lait she started to drink and stretched.
“Let’s call it a night then. We can continue next time.”
“Ahh, mm-hm, agreed.”
Military lectures were boring beyond anything else and Mira would forget all about it the next day, but she still carelessly nodded.
“Your bedroom is the same as yesterday, do you remember where was it?”
“Mm-hm, no problem.”
Mira stealthily left behind the Apple au Lait flask on the sofa and stood up, then walked towards the door.
“I’ll be off ahead, sorry.”
“All riiight, good night.”
“If you’re to get up early, I recommend you keep it moderate when playing with yourself and get proper sleep.”
“Don’t lump me together with you. Good night.”
After taking a look at smiling Solomon and Luminaria with her usual grin, Mira said her farewell and left the office.