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[If you don’t follow the rules, then I won’t hesitate to…]
The moment Fenix uttered those words again, I could sense the atmosphere getting tense again.
Fenix, aren’t you ashamed of intimidating kids like this? Tsk, tsk…
–However, I instantly froze when Fenix suddenly turned to look at me, as if she could read my mind.
Ah, well, she then turned to look at everyone else, so surely, it was only my imagination, right?
Yep, it was a coincidence. A very good coincidence that made me feel a little bit guilty…
[I won’t hesitate and kick you guys out of the Treasury Room. It is my duty to protect the items stored here. Understand?]
All of us immediately nodded. Without making unnecessary voice.
[Well, I’m glad all of you seem like docile children.]
…Who wouldn’t be docile after you intimidated us like that? Geez.
[The rules are simple. First, you are only allowed to go and touch the items in the unrestricted areas. Nobody is allowed to try and touch the items in the restricted areas. Second, treat the items with care. Do not break them—although the items in the unrestricted areas aren’t that fragile, but still! And third… obey anything I say. If I were to suddenly command you to drop the items you’re holding, do so. If I were to tell you to throw them, do so. Just do them without questioning first. If you want explanation, I will tell you later. Understood?]
We nodded, nodded, and nodded like good children we were.
I was sure that everyone wouldn’t want to risk themselves like that anyway. Oh, Leti might be too young to understand things, and she didn’t seem to be strangely precocious like her cheeky big brother, so I might note that in my mind. Yep, yep.
Oh well, Luca might have taken the precaution for his beloved little sister, anyway.
“Worry not, little birdie, we’re only checking the treasure chests like before!” Carbuncle said in a reassuring manner, as she approached Fenix and patted her body casually…
Everyone in the room: “…”
When the two met for the first time, they took an extra time to assess each other. It even seemed that they were assessing each other as potential opponent in a battle. But luckily, the two of them decided to tolerate each other instead of wrecking a havoc here…
Well, Fenix definitely chose to compromise because she was responsible of the treasury room. Carbuncle… might not be as hotblooded as I thought she was, as she still took the time to think before acting. Though this was not the first time Carbuncle displayed this quality of hers, I was still impressed.
I might not be able to stand being good friends with someone who would go around picking fights or acting without thinking, though…
I admit I might be clumsier and careless in this lifetime, but I was still a good girl, and I didn’t let curiosity take over the control of my body, okay? When we went to the treasury room last time, I displayed such a good, good control of myself!
[…That’s all. Dismissed.]
Then, we went to compare the treasure chests!
…Or not. I meant, Luca was so familiar with anything in the palace, and it wasn’t like the first time he compared the treasure chests, so it seemed like he decided to entertain Leticia with the items he thought interesting.
Kiri accompanied the siblings as if it were natural.
Ein couldn’t help himself and looked here and there.
Alt-nii brought Rurune this time. I thought it would be a bit chaotic on Alt-nii’s side, but surprisingly, Rurune didn’t behave mischievously—she didn’t even seem like she was thrilled by seeing the items here.
Rurune is such a mysterious thing.
She didn’t act all curious despite it being her first time here, seeing all the items. Maybe Familiars think differently?
So, Alt-nii was the one who excitedly showed Rurune all the things he deemed interesting.
Harvey and Clavis were discussing the equipments found there, mostly unique weapons.
…I felt like only me, Iris, and Carbuncle who remembered our initial reason of being here.
Ah well, at any rate, the main reason we revisited the treasury room was for Ein, so…
“Hey, Ein, let’s take a look at the treasure chests!” I called out to him as I saw Carbuncle who had started to showcase her treasure chests.
“Wait, I remember reading somewhere that this ancient item is…!!” Ein didn’t even bother looking my way, his sparkling eyes were shining so brightly as he looked at the artifact in front of him.
“…Ein, we’re here for the treasure chests, remember? Let’s get our main objective done before moving on to… conduct free research, okay?”
“You have to be able to resist distraction and focus on your main objective first!! Didn’t you say that you wanted to learn from me? There you go!”
“…!! You’re right, big sis! Okay, let’s assess the treasure chests first!!”
My, my, I’m so lucky I figured him out already—well, more or less.
Then, we proceeded to take a look at various kinds of treasure chests. The treasure chests belonged to the dragon race were different from the treasure chests found here.
All of the dragon race’s treasure chests were imbued or contained magical power. There were also some treasure chests of the other races imbued with magical power, but there were some with no magic at all.
Yep, I didn’t say that the treasure chests in this room were humans’, because all the races save for the dragons—we all lived in coexistence with one another, so it wasn’t clear anymore. Some distinctive features could tell the makers of some items, though.
Items seemingly dark or giving out eerie vibe—chances are, they originated from Oni race.
Items seemingly glamorous or with light aura—the characteristics of Elf race.
Items containing anything from nature—the beastmen love these kinds of crafts the most.
Items seemingly tough and small—dwarf race’s characteristics.
Meanwhile, humans were the most neutral, so anything that didn’t fit these bills would most likely be made by humans.
Obviously, this was a rough guideline to tell the things apart, but sometimes, reality could be different from the theory.
This is my second time coming to this room, plus I have knowledge of my past life, so of course I’d know this much, haha!
I heard there were also cursed treasure chests or treasure chests with dangerous mechanisms… but those things were in the restricted areas, so…
We could only experiment with the safe treasure chests. It was quite fun putting things in and out of the chests.
Ah, that reminded me. We were quite scared of diving in and out of the treasure chests, especially the ones like Carbuncle’s, the ones with storage magic effects. We weren’t sure of the depth of the treasure chest, so it was exciting yet scary at the same time.
Back then, Carbuncle demonstrated the safety of doing that, so I followed her, driven by my own curiosity and excitement!
On the other hand, Iris was so timid that she almost cried when Carbuncle gently pushed her back as she dove into the treasure chest…
But nothing bad or frightening happened, so she overcame her fear back then…
“Ein, it might look scary at first, but it is not that scary at all once you try it! Look, look!!”
…Now, she excitedly demonstrated it to Ein.
Iris, look, do you think Ein is scared of trying it out, judging by his eager look?
…I’ll refrain from saying that out loud.
After we dove into the magical treasure chest, we entered what seemed to be another space—the storage room. The size of the space depends on the capacity of the treasure chest.
“Wow, it can be handy having this kind of treasure chest, right? We can hide here if push comes to shove!!” Ein suddenly exclaimed when we entered the one with biggest capacity.
“Well, that’s right. Fun fact, I can safely transform back to my dragon form here.”
“Eeeeh, show me, show me, Big Sis Kuu!!” Ein excitedly pleaded.
“Hmmmmmm…,” Carbuncle pondered a bit.
Ah well, I won’t fall for it. Not for the second time.
“Maybe I can…,” Carbuncle muttered, making Ein more excited. However, Iris and I knew where this would go.
“But nah, how could I show my majestic form so easily like that? Moreover, you might feel intimidated by my dragon form, so no. Maybe one day you’ll be graced with the opportunity to see my majestic dragon form?” Carbuncle said with a smug expression.
“Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeh!! That’s so unfairrrrr!!” Ein pouted.
Carbuncle laughed after seeing Ein’s reaction. Yup, Carbuncle seemed to love teasing people. That might be why she came to really enjoy Iris’ presence, despite Iris not having any combat ability.
I won Carbuncle’s interest by displaying my ability in combat, just like Alt-nii. Luckily, Carbuncle didn’t ask for another battle like our first meeting.
…Some sparring sessions were conducted, indeed, but they weren’t anything like our first intense battle, haha!
As we busied ourselves in the treasury room just like that, time passed by in a blink of an eye.
Soon, the adults came to pick us up.
Well, it was fun, and it wasn’t like we won’t be able to come here again, so yup. Time to go, for now.
However, it’s true that visiting something for the second time doesn’t give you as much excitement. So, I wouldn’t advise coming here too often!
Maybe one day, when we’re able to access the other areas, like the restricted ones… Right?
During my way back home with my family, I thought back of Mom and Nicole’s interaction before… And the more I tried to remember their interactions that I saw during the noble parties, it seemed like Mom wasn’t that awkward with Nicole—compared to how she was around the other noble women for the usual pleasantries.
Sure, it was still different from how Mom was with her coworkers like Meredea, and there were times when Mom just curtly greeted Nicole or answered her, but that was just Mom being Mom. Still, I found it different somehow…
Which made me curious…
“Mom, I just realized it now… but you seem to be familiar with Nicole-san? I didn’t really notice it before…”
…I hope I got my points crossed out—like, I didn’t mean familiar because they held the same position of duchess…
“Oh? Yes, we are familiar with each other… Or well, our situations forced us to be familiar with each other. Remember what Nicole-san explained to you before?” Mom bitterly smiled.
“Yes, though I don’t know the details… But you don’t seem to dislike it?”
“Well, at first, I couldn’t get used to it. I wasn’t a social person to begin with, but I was entrusted with a very important position that required socializing and working together with the others. Anyway, after several times talking and working together, I got used to her. She seemed like a good person, anyway.”
True, Nicole is actually a good person despite everything. Let’s put aside my inability to really trust people back then.
“Eh? Ah, nothing! I’m just curious!”
“Oh, oh! Lyra, don’t tell me you’re finally considering her words? Like, having her as mother-in-law and Ein as your future husband?” Alt-nii dropped such a huge bomb.
“No, that’s not—“
“Lyra, don’t be tempted by her offer. You will never know what happens in the future. Don’t be rash. What if she turns out to be so controlling to you—if you’re really marrying into her family?” Dad suddenly asked with a very concerned tone.
“…Dad, I’m really not thinking of—“
My words were immediately cut off even before I could finish them. Also, I seemed to hear Clavis mutter something like, “If it’s my mother, she won’t—“, but I couldn’t really hear him well, as he also quieted down as if sensing the situation.
“Remember, Lyra, you’re still very young. Take some time to think of it. Not all nobles are getting engaged at young age these days, even if there are still nobles who do. I don’t want my daughter to regret in the future, so take all the time you need.”
“…Dad… Please, stop, really, I get it!!”
I glanced at Alt-nii full of agony.
Perhaps he felt guilty for triggering Dad like that, but Alt-nii tried to shift the topic.
“Oh yeah, Dad, how’s the meeting?”
“Hm? Oh, don’t worry about it. It seems that we’ll finally be able to resolve things peacefully soon.”
Thankfully, Dad bit the bait and answered Alt-nii reassuringly.
Well, isn’t that a good news?
I really want to enjoy a peaceful life, after all!!
Soon afterwards, the Elven country, Cielle and the Oni country, Naraka, agreed to end the skirmishes before they escalated into a war—to honor the peace treaty that was made in the past.
Things gradually turned peaceful and blissful as if nothing happened… However, the fact that the skirmishes, the battles… the “small-scale” war happened couldn’t be erased. The conflict ended, but not without any cost.
That was what this little girl was forced to understand at a young age…
“Daddy, welcome home!!”
The young girl with lustrous green hair opened the door excitedly. Prior to opening the door, she had peeked through the window and saw the familiar uniforms. That was how she could guess who might be coming soon.
No matter how hard she tried to peek around, she couldn’t spot the figure of her father among the uniformed people who came knocking to her house.
She only spotted… her daddy’s beloved bow and arrow.
Someone else held it.
Not her daddy.
…But why? How?
Where is he?
Actually, even if she was still young, she could already think of why… It was just… she refused to think of it. She denied the possibility with her everything.
The man who was holding her daddy’s weapon—the man who seemed to hold the highest rank among the ones who came there—saluted her and looked at her while concealing his sadness.
“You must be Fiona. Where is your mother?”
“…,” Fiona was still trying to digest what was going on.
Her sickly mother—who noticed that it took her daughter so long to inform her who was coming—finally decided to come out.
“Fiona? Who might it be?”
Then—the sight of the uniformed men came into her vision. She also noticed her missing husband and… her beloved’s weapon.
At that moment, she understood everything.
The man—who seemed to be the leader among the others—took off his hat and crossed one hand in front of his chest, bowing. The others followed him.
Fiona’s eyes widened as she looked at the bowing people in disbelief.
On the other hand, Fiona’s mother fully understood what was going on. She broke into sobs as she hugged her only daughter tightly.
Amidst her mother’s cries and the people’s sorrowful gazes, Fiona only stood there, frozen on her spot.
…What does this mean?
It doesn’t make any sense.
Am I dreaming?
Reality began to sink into her mind, although she still refused to accept it.
Still, denial won’t turn the reality over.
Despite knowing that, Fiona didn’t react. She didn’t even cry.
However, people said that tearless grief bled inwardly.
Perhaps, tearless grief was the most painful kind of grief one could feel.
[He’s never coming back.]