After Riley told Sera ‘I got stuff to tell you, so just come quietly,’ he gave her time to have a brief conversation with Nainiae. Now, he was waiting for her to come back after packing.
“Excuse me, Nainiae… What about preparing for the dinner?”
“The vegetables were handled. I just needed to put final touch, but Ms. Willa asked if I needed time to talk to you. So… I shamelessly accepted the offer.”
It was to give the two the time to resolve emotional problems that they didn’t get to resolve before leaving the mansion.
Awkward mood was flowing in the air.
Riley was waiting inside the library. Having noticed the voices of the two maids outside, he perked up his ears to listen.
“… Excuse me, Ms. Sera.”
“… Excuse me, Nainiae.”
They both called each other at the same time. Riley, who was waiting inside the library for the two to return, peeked a smile without realizing.
“Please go ahead first.”
“No. Ms. Sera, please go first…”
It seemed Sera decided to do as Nainiae said. Riley could hear her sighing briefly.
“I’ve heard from the Young Master. You will be… traveling to a dangerous place?”
“I’ve also heard that you are worried about me.”
It seemed Sera was embarrassed. Her voice was a lot quieter than earlier. To hear better, Riley focused on his hearing.
“That is… what is it again? Please do not get me wrong! It is not that being concerned for me is a bad thing! It’s just that…”
Riley smiled because he could imagine Sera’s red face right about now. There was no need for him to check. He was sure of it.
With tremendous difficulty, Sera managed to bring out those few words.
“I was feeling anxious. That was why. Although we are not related by blood, I thought we had become close. Despite that, you had been trying to do things all by yourself while hiding them from me, so… that’s why I was a little anxious. That’s probably why I was angry.”
Sera said she was not considerate of the fact that Nainiae didn’t tell her out of concern for Sera. Sera also said that she let out frustration out of anxiousness. Sera explained how she really felt and apologized. Sera sounded ashamed for what she had done.
“There’s no need for apology.”
In front of the library, Nainiae was facing Sera’s apology. Nainiae shook her head and said,
“There is no need for it. I also had been thinking of you as my real big sister.”
Fiddling with the ribbon that Sera gave to Nainiae as a gift last year, Nainiae timidly reduced the volume of her voice. She lowered her head and said she did wrong.
“I should be the one to apologize. I am sorry, Ms. Sera. If I really thought of you as my family… my big sister, then it would have been the right thing to do to tell you about my worries and talk about it with you, but… I didn’t think of it.”
“I’m still young, and bigger portions of my life was spent at places like the prison or the Lower Solia, so… I am still not used to the relationships with people. I was afraid.”
Nainiae tightly grabbed onto her skirt.
“Young Master already told me about this, but it is hard to correct my thoughts. I had been worrying about things that I didn’t need to, and I ended up making the people around me worry...”
Unable to stand it, Sera bit her lips, extended her arms out and tightly held Nainiae’s head in her chest.
“It’s fine now. Please say no more.”
“We both have done wrong. We both apologized. We just need to make sure something like this does not happen in the future, right?”
While being held in Sera’s chest, Nainiae seemed happy. She blushed and answered quietly,
Meanwhile, Riley was secretly listening to the two’s conversation. He sighed in relief and buried himself in the sofa. He thought about his mother.
‘Those words from Sera… I felt like I have heard that from somewhere. Is it thanks to my mother?’
Thinking about his mother, Riley had a proud look on his face. However, although a long time had passed, Sera and Nainiae weren’t coming into the library. So, Riley erased the look from his face and got up from the sofa.
“Hey, that’s enough. Could you guys…”
“… come in.”
Riley opened the library door and glared at two maid who were fully committed to hugging each other. As if the two maids had no idea that Riley was inside the library, they hurriedly let go of each other.
“W… Were you inside?”
“If you were, it would’ve been nice if you told me…”
They were scratching their heads. Watching the two, Riley looked dumbfounded. He said,
“What do you mean? I did tell you that I will be waiting at the library.”
“Ah, you did…”
“It slipped my mind.”
Riley went back and forth between the two maids’ faces. He pondered about if he should change two of the names in the list. After wondering about it for a brief moment, he went back into the library.
“Have you packed everything?”
“You told me to pack lightly, so I did bring just one bag.”
Sera quickly showed the traveling size bag that she had on her back. Sera asked Riley,
“Excuse me, Young Master… I did hear that we will be going on a trip, but did you tell Count Stein or Lady Iris?”
Nainiae responded for Riley.
“No. We will be back very soon, so…”
As if she had no idea, Sera tilted her head to the side. Riley packed his stuff and looked at Nainiae.
“Let’s save the detailed explanation for later. First, let’s get to our next destination. You know whose turn it is, right?”
“Well then, let’s get over there.”
As if she was already ready for this, Nainiae moved her mana and opened a dimensional portal inside the library. She stepped aside to tell others to go in first.
“Y… Young Master! Wait!”
Riley went it first, and Sera went in second. Nainiae vacantly looked around the library and went through the portal last.
* * *
They were at the Karuta desert.
The dark sands were purified in this place. The oasis had regained its former appearance as well. When the desert was covered in dark sand, the stream of travelers going across the desert through the oasis had ceased. Now, the people were starting to come back.
“Huuuurrrrr… I just cannot get used to Nainiae’s teleportation. I think my inside feels nauseated a little too…”
Right after Riley, Sera was the one who came after. She covered her mouth to calm her stomach and looked around the desert.
“… This place is?”
There was only one desert that Sera knew, so she carefully muttered,
“Is this place the Karuta desert?”
Right at that moment, Nainiae also came through the portal, and the dimensional portal closed behind her.
“Why are we here?”
To avoid being seen by anyone, they came to a place in the desert where people didn’t pass through. He put on the desert hood that he came prepared with and said,
“I have a business here.”
Nainiae gave a desert hood to Sera and added to supplement Riley’s deficient answer.
“Commander Nara and Ms. Priesia are here. That’s why.”
Sera thought about a news article that said the Karuta desert, which was drenched in black and rotting, was cleansed recently. She nodded and muttered,
“I saw the news article about them stopping the swarm of monsters migrating through Romella Village. So, I was certain that they were over there instead, but… it looks like that is not the case.”
Before Sera started to mumble, Riley already had started to walk toward oasis nearby. He started to explain why Nara and Priesia were at the desert.
“It’s because Nara is working for Reitri as a mercenary. As for Priesia, that lass still has a reward on her discovery and whatnot, so she is being taken care of by Nara’s mercenary group.”
After cleansing the desert with Priesia, Reitri was the very first one to move his merchant group and dominate the business at the desert. He was currently the merchant with the biggest merchant group in the area.
“Coming to think of it, I think a lot has changed in the past one year.”
“I’m talking about you, Young Master. Even during last year spring, I never dreamed that I would be walking through the desert with you like this.”
Having heard what Sera said, Riley felt the same. With empty look on his face, he said,
By the time they chatted away for a few minutes, the three were able to see a town that surrounded the oasis in the distance.
“Ah, is that the place?”
It had not been long since the desert was recovered. So, the village was small. There were only few guards watching the place.
The three entered the village after going through a rather simple process. They checked out each building to look for the carriage that had Reitri merchant group’s insignia.
“… Young Master, over there.”
Sera found it first. Riley and Nainiae, who were walking around while looking at other places, turned their eyes to where Sera pointed at.
“That carriage over there. Isn’t that Reitri merchant group’s carriage?”
Having heard Sera’s question, Riley looked at the direction carefully. He nodded to indicate that she was right and then started to walk toward the carriage.
At the mansion’s library, Riley already had checked the whereabouts of Reitri. Riley was certain that this was the carriage that Reitri rode.
“… Huh? Huh? Stop! Hey, stop him!”
“Look at this runt, seriously… If you filled your stomach, then you should be leaving quietly after paying. Instead, you dare to make a scene? What did you say? It should be free since there was a centipede in the food? Why? Why don’t you also ask the boss for psychological damage while at it?”
“What? Did you call me a runt? You little bastard, you dare to talk that way to me?”
“What? Little bastard? Come over here.”
“C… Commander! Please don’t break anything! If Reitri merchant group has to pay for the damages again, then we really won’t be able to…”
“Hey, hey! I said stop him!”
It appeared to be a pub. It was loud there, and many voices could be heard from the direction. After that…
A giant was thrown out while smashing the door on the way. He plummeted on the ground.
“Kuk. How… How could a little kid like him have such monstrous strength…”
“You runt. Little kid, little kid… You still dare to call me a little kid? Let’s see how much beating you will be receiving from this little kid.”
Through the inn’s door, a boy wearing a wide fabric clothing rushed out. The clothing was becoming of the desert setting.
[TL: Earlier, the author called the place a pub.]
“Commander! Please calm down!”
“Come on, Rorona… Did you not see the uncomfortable look on our boss’s face? They are the ones at fault. Why should we just watch and do nothing?”
“Still! I know I said I would like to be on the newspaper again, but I don’t want to be on it like this!”
Riley and Nainiae found the two people who came out of the pub. They were the same as always, and that made Riley and Nainiae peek smiles.
“Do not worry. I’ll adjust it properly so it won’t get on the newspaper.”
“Ugh. Commander, please!”
“I said don’t worry? If anything goes wrong… Huh?”
The giant saw that Nara tilted his head to the side and floated a question mark on his face. Giant slowly turned his head and look behind himself.
Behind the giant, Nara and Rorona found the three. It seemed Nara and Rorona were glad to see them. They welcomed Riley’s group.
‘… Now’s my chance!’
The giant was thinking that Nara was letting his guard down. The giant gritted his teeth and promptly turned around.
‘I should bounce!’
It seemed that Sera figured out that the giant did something wrong and was about to take off. Sera casually put her foot forward.
The giant was tumbling with his legs to make a run for it from Nara. However, he tripped over Sera’s delicate foot. He fell down once again.
“Y… You lass!”
The giant crumpled his face as if he was trying to say that he will really show what it would be like when he is angry. He brought out a small knife that he had hidden on his waist and swung it at her.
As if she was staring at a bug, Sera had been looking at the man in silence. She casually moved her legs and smacked the giant’s wrist.
By just a kick, the giant lost the knife from his hand. Sera’s next kick came, and the giant ended up making a hand print on the ground. The man screamed.
“Ah, ahhhk! Stop! Stop!”
With the heel of the shoe, she stepped on the man’s hand firmly. She glanced at Riley, and he shrugged to tell her that Sera could do whatever she wanted. Riley went to Nara.
“It’s been a while! I think we saw each other last year?”
“Young Master, by any chance, did you see the newspaper? We were on it.”
“Do you really think I would not have see it?”
Nara was watching Sera neutralizing the giant. He decided to leave the rest to her. Nara stopped huffing and puffing. He relaxed his face and looked at Riley.
“By the way, what brings you all the way here, Young Master? Did you come to see Mr. Reitri?”
“No, not him… I have something to discuss with you.”
“Something to discuss? With me?”
Nara pointed at himself. Riley nodded to say, ‘yes.’ Riley started to look for another person.
“Priesia is with you guys too, right? It would be exhausting to explain twice, so give me some of your time.”
Riley looked for Priesia, and Nara opened his mouth a little.
“Ah, about that…”
Having heard Riley’s question, Nara blurred the end of his sentence. As if he was trying to ask Rorona to answer for him, he kept glancing at Rorona.
“Young Master, Ms. Priesia is currently…”