After reluctantly parting with Kurono at the Stratus Smithing Workshop, Lily visits『Fairy Tail』, which has firmly established itself as her favorite store.
The person she has come to see is the beautiful Dark Elf, Sofia Sirius Percival, who serves as the chairman of the Royal Spada Academy.
Sofia, the matriarch of a large noble family, is wearing a humble yet elegant robe while Lily is wearing an academy uniform. The two of them might appear to be parent and child, but Sofia’s dark skin and Lily’s shining wings make it clear that they are of different races. Indeed, the two of them are simply friends.
The store is considerably packed with customers as it is lunchtime, but it’s only natural for Lily, an honored customer, to be sitting in a reserved seat where she can place orders for secret information. The two of them were seated without being forced to wait, and they should have been elegantly enjoying a meal that has been handmade by Fairies.
「This incident was a blunder on my part…」(Sofia)
There is a dark expression of deep regret on Sofia’s brown-skinned face. A truly bitter expression.
「There was no helping it; reinforcements wouldn’t have made it to Iskia Fortress in time if it weren’t for Kurono. It takes time to send out an emergency quest, and more importantly, it’s impossible for you to make a move immediately since you’re not a knight or adventurer, isn’t it?」(Lily)
Lily’s calm remark is proof that although her appearance remains young, her mind is in an adult state. Her wise words are right on the mark.
「No, but… Still…」(Sofia)
「I understand how you feel, the frustration of not being able to come to the rescue when someone you love is in trouble.」(Lily)
Sofia could not save Simon. That is her sole regret.
As Lily says, there was nothing that Sofia could have done in that situation. It would have been impossible for her to reach Iskia Fortress faster than the Knights’ Order – no, faster than Kurono.
「Fortunately Simon is safe, and he isn’t concerned that you didn’t come to save him. In fact, something like that wouldn’t even occur to him, would it?」(Lily)
From Simon’s point of view, his relationship with Sofia is nothing more than that between a student and headmaster. She was doing him favors as he took a break from attending the academy and worked as an adventurer, but it certainly cannot be said that they share a deep bond.
「It’s not like he has lost faith in you or anything, so isn’t it alright? The more important thing is what you should do from now on, isn’t it?」(Lily)
As Lily gives a gentle smile, Sofia replies with a serious expression, as if she has hardened her resolve.
「Yes, that’s why I’ve decided that it’s time for me to make a move.」(Sofia)
「But is it alright to do that? It would be troublesome if the head of the Percival family, one of the Four Great Houses, were to act carelessly.」(Lily)
「I have made the necessary arrangements. No, those weren’t even necessary. It would have been better for me and him to have been together from the beginning rather than waste time on worthless things like this. I can just freeze and break any troublesome people who try to get in the way.」(Sofia)
She exudes the spirit of a Rank 5 adventurer who is well-known even in the neighboring nation of Daidalos. Her crystal-blue eyes have a dangerous glint in them. Lily senses that they contain enough cold to freeze the entire store in an instant. She cannot help but sense it.
「Ufufu, it seems that my warning was unnecessary. I’m cheering for you, so if you have anything you want me to help you with, please let me know.」(Lily)
「Thank you. I feel bad for asking you for something right away, but I do have one favor to ask –」(Sofia)
「Simon will return to the dormitories tomorrow. Is it alright if I introduce you then?」(Lily)
「It seems that you know everything.」(Sofia)
「I have a good understanding of what goes on inside the heart of a lost maiden.」(Lily)
The two friends laugh together. Maidens who are in love are beautiful indeed.
「Ah, that reminds me, I’ll return the magic items that I borrowed. If you’re going to make your move starting tomorrow, you’ll need this ribbon and these glasses, won’t you?」(Lily)
Returning the items of disguise that Lily and Fiona had used in Avalon to aid their acts of pure evil – or rather, their training, is one of the reasons Lily has met Sofia today.
The ribbon and hairband that change the color of the wearer’s hair, and the glasses and contact lenses that change the color of the wearer’s eyes. Each of these items are worth tens of millions of Klans.
「No, that won’t be necessary. I’ve found the perfect thing, so I’ll be using that.」(Sofia)
「You’re amazingly confident. Is it really that good?」(Lily)
「Yes, they’re my best clothes*. If I wear them, I could even face down a Rank 5 monster.」(Sofia)
Even as Lily wonders if this is the correct way to use one’s best clothes, she comes to the conclusion that it’s probably fine if Sofia can say with such confidence.
「By the way, I have a favor to ask as well, would that be alright?」(Lily)
As Sofia gives this happy response, Lily continues.
「I am going to buy a new bed, so I want you to recommend a good shop.」(Lily)
Lily is currently a Rank 5 adventurer. She is free to go into the upper-class districts if she simply presents her Mythril-plate Guild Card. She can visit the high-quality stores that Sofia, a member of a great noble family, shops at herself.
「If you’re going to be fussy over it, it would be best to have it made by a furniture craftsman, wouldn’t it?」(Sofia)
「No, I need to replace my bed with a new one as soon as possible.」(Lily)
「You’re in a hurry? Hmm, that dormitory was quite worn out, after all. Has one of the beds there broken? Or is it so dirty that you can’t stand it anymore?」(Sofia)
Lily lets out a troubled sigh and gives a forced, fake smile that conceals the discomfort rising from the depths of her heart as she tells Sofia the reason she needs to purchase a bed.
「Yes, a winged insect landed on it and it’s very dirty.」(Lily)
「Insects have appeared there? That is quite the disaster.」(Sofia)
「Yes, it must exterminated quickly…」(Lily)
Those wings must be torn and scattered so that they will never buzz around Kurono again – Lily keeps these words hidden in the depths of her heart.
There is something that Fiona must do, even if it means refusing to share a wonderful lunchtime with Kurono.
「– So what kind of divine protection are you offering me?」(Fiona)
「You should find that out for yourself.」(Endymion)
As these were the words spoken by the black witch Endymion, Fiona still does not know what power is contained in the divine protection that has been granted to her.
Fiona had initially thought that there might be some meaning to keeping it a secret, but seeing the goddess giving a large yawn right in front of her, she realized that the goddess simply found it too bothersome. It seemed that the goddess of witches really did things at her own pace.
「Rest assured; I have granted you the power* you need.」(Endymion)
These few words were the last thing that Fiona heard before returning from the purgatory world in her dream.
She was very doubtful as to whether she had even been granted a divine protection at all, but it showed itself in the battle at Iskia Village.
At the beginning of the battle, Fiona cast『Aur Soleil』at the incoming monster army.
Her prided, most powerful original spell. The Element Masters’ most destructive flame spell, which even Kurono and Lily weren’t capable of matching, should have drained Fiona of all her mana* after a single cast.
Fiona did not collapse even after casting『Aur Soleil』at Iskia Village.
She did feel fatigue as her mana reserves dropped below half, but she didn’t have any difficulty continuing to fight afterwards.
The divine protection either decreased the amount of mana required to cast her spell, increased the amount of mana she possesses or perhaps both. Its exact effects are still unknown, but Fiona immediately understood that this was the power of the divine protection.
However, there is no way that this basic enhancement that could be granted to anyone is the only effect of the divine protection of the black witch Endymion, a goddess so heavily involved with magic.
What Fiona was granted is the divine protection of an evil goddess as a result of offering many lives as sacrifices. There is no doubt that her body currently contains a more fearsome, terrible, extraordinary power.
But she doesn’t know what that power is. In short, Fiona must confirm the currently unknown powers of the divine protection as soon as possible.
There is no telling what kind of evil effect it may exhibit. That is why Fiona is heading for a place outside Spada, where no eyes will see her – or so she should have been.
「… Why am I in a place like this?」(Fiona)
Before Fiona knows it, she is sitting in a chair. There is a hand-cloth and a cup of hot tea that is letting out dense steam.
On the other side of the counter in front of her is a chef wearing cooking attire that she has never seen in Elysion or Spada, spiritedly shouting an order,「One serving of tuna!」
This is a restaurant that has opened in Spada today which offers the famous traditional food of the nation of Rune. This store is commonly known by its nickname, the「Sushi* Store.」
「Ahem, thank you all for coming to the Sushi Store,『Orwed』, today. Now then, we will begin the event to celebrate our opening, the Sushi-eating tournament!」(Chef)
The customers occupying every single seat in the store let out a cheer. Fiona looks around her as if she still can’t process the current situation and takes a sip of the hot, pale-green tea.
The slightly astringent tea is something that she is tasting for the first time, but it isn’t bad. Her gluttonous instincts tell her that it will taste much better when consumed together with a certain dish.
「The rules are simple; the person who eats the most sushi within the given time limit will be awarded 10,000,000 Klans and –」(Chef)
The chef standing at the center of the counter raises an old-looking book high in the air as he makes a declaration.
「– this precious, secret book written by Count Redwing himself that contains the essence of the culture of Rune!」(Chef)
Among the customers who are making noise once more, Fiona absentmindedly sips her tea as she tries to remember where she has had heard Count Redwing’s name before.
「However, this secret book is a copy, not the original. Don’t get me wrong.」(Chef)
As Fiona hears the disappointed voices coming from around her, she remembers.
Count Redwing was the nobleman from Rune, the foreigner who came from the other world known as Japan like Kurono. But he died over fifty years ago; it would be impossible to meet him now.
Kurono was saying something like that in a disappointed tone around the time they enrolled at the academy.
「… I wonder if Kurono-san would be happy if I brought this back for him as a souvenir.」(Fiona)
As if giving an answer to Fiona’s whisper, her stomach lets out a growl.
Now that she thinks about it, it is lunchtime. She was seriously thinking about experimenting with her divine protection, but it was undoubtedly her body’s honest instincts that led her to this place that seems as if would offer her delicious food.
The tea that she drank on an empty stomach stimulates her hunger further. Her stomach growls once more.
「The conditions are not bad.」(Fiona)
If there are any problems, it would be Fiona’s gourmet rivals who have gathered here today.
With her serious, sleepy-looking face that shows as much caution as when she ventures into Dungeons, Fiona looks around at her surroundings once more.
「Gahaha, this is to celebrate my return from Iskia! I’m gonna eat as much sushi as I want and even take some prize money home!」(Gustav)
An enormous red Orc’s loud voice fills the entire store. Fiona has seen him before; he was one of the adventurers defending Iskia Village.
「Jeez, I’m a vegetarian so there isn’t a whole lot I can eat on the menu.」(Douglalas)
「I-I can’t, eat, eggs.」(Gon)
「Sushi with no wasabi, please.」(Zedra)
If Fiona recalls correctly, these are the members of the『Iron Demon Brigade』, a Rank 5 party of adventurers famous in Spada. All four of them have incredibly large bodies and one look at them told her that their appetites would be Rank 5 as well.
Still, the four of them look very cramped sitting in a single booth of the restaurant. An Orc, a Minotaur, a Cyclops and a Golem. It looks as if that booth has become a high-Rank Dungeon.
「Listen, Kai. We must obtain that secret book at all costs.」(Safiel)
「I know, Safi, just leave it to me!」(Kai)
Sitting on seats at the other end of the counter are Kai and Safiel, two members of the fated『Wing Road.』
Fiona can’t see the other members. She guesses that these two are perhaps very intimate with each other.
「Still, it’s unusual for you to want a book that’s not an erotic book, Safi.」(Kai)
「I’ll kill you and turn you into a servant. Shut up and start eating some sushi.」(Safiel)
It seems that the theory of them being a couple is incorrect.
Nevertheless, Fiona knows that the swordsman called Kai is a mere human, yet possesses superhuman physical prowess equivalent to Kurono’s.
In that case, he likely also possesses a superhuman appetite.
「It seems that I am surrounded by powerful enemies…」(Fiona)
As Fiona looks about at the banners around the inside of the store, she catches glimpses of others here and there with serious looks in their eyes, letting out an extraordinary presence.
This place is about to become a battlefield. Fiona braces herself.
「It’s been a long time since I had some sushi~ I wonder which one I should have first!」
The adorable-looking boy wearing a males’ academy uniform on the seat immediately to Fiona’s right grins broadly as he stares at the menu.
Fiona feels a little pity for him.
No matter how she looks at him, this child who has black hair and red eyes resembling Kurono’s is not the target of this eating competition. It is likely that he is just here to enjoy the taste of the Rune’s cuisine.
However, the overeating party that is about to begin will produce an atmosphere where it will be impossible for him to leisurely enjoy his food.
「Even so, I will fight my own fight.」(Fiona)
Fiona steels her resolve, loosens the belt of her uniform a little and prepares for war.
「Now then, please place your orders!」(Chef)
「Kurono-san, give me your strength – Itadakimasu.」(Fiona)
Thus, a fierce battle begins.