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Listening to Frau, the bath should be a facility that was built at a ridiculously fast pace, which would make one wonder about its quality, but the bath house built in the outskirts of Klinge was so neat that it surprised even Renya. Seen from the outside, it merely looked like a warehouse or something similar, that only had bricks piled up on top of each other, at first glance, but the interior was decent, and on top of having a proper separation between men and women sections at the entrance, the dressing rooms for men and women were also quite large. Baskets to put the clothes in, bathrobes apparently for covering the body after leaving the bath, clean towels, and many other accommodations had been prepared in considerable amounts.
No matter how you thought about it, it wasn’t a facility meant to be used by only one person, but because the facility itself was booked since the archduchess was currently occupying the women’s bath, Renya was alone in the men’s section.
Going through something like a sign curtain that had “Men’s Bath” written on it, he passed an attendant’s booth, which had been placed there for some reason, and continued to the dressing room. It was apparently a Trident custom for men to change into a yukata after taking off their clothes when at a bath.
Incomprehensibly, such a custom didn’t seem to exist for women, seeing how Renya was told by Frau that this custom was limited to men. He had been fairly puzzled by the logic behind this, but as she insisted that it was a custom, he didn’t have any room to object. Although it wasn’t as though he didn’t harbor any doubts about the existence of a bathing custom in a human country that shouldn’t have the custom of entering baths often.
The yukata for men was something similar to short pants with a size that had quite a bit of leeway. Of course they were made out of a fabric that wouldn’t become transparent even after getting wet.
The instant Renya saw it for the first time, he felt like he somehow understood the reason why women didn’t put it on. In the case of men, it’d work out one way or another with just wearing those short pants, but women would need to wear a yukata that covered them from top to bottom if they planned to hide everything. If something like that were made out of a thick fabric that wouldn’t become transparent even after getting wet, it’d probably be impossible for them to wash their bodies, in addition to the yukata becoming too heavy while bathing.
Wearing his yukata while admiring the fact that it actually followed some kind of logic, Renya passed through the door separating the dressing room and bathroom, and was taken aback by the sight spreading out in front of his eyes.
The bathtub that had been built there couldn’t be called a bathtub according to Renya’s common knowledge. If he were to go with a word that would describe his impression of it best, it would actually be pool.
The bathing area following after the area used to wash oneself was filled with somewhat white, cloudy, hot water, and endlessly long and wide. It continued all the way to the wall that very likely separated the men’s bath from the women’s. Renya estimated the distance to be around 25 meters. Moreover, the length and width of the bathing area seemed to be around the same size.
Seemingly as a measure against peeping, there were no windows in the bathroom. Renya didn’t know whether the lamps installed on the ceiling were some kind of sorcery tools or the <Bright Light> spell, but considering the bathing area’s size, he felt that the illumination was somewhat lacking as it was slightly dark in here.
The bathing area was so large that it woke the urge in him to ask just how many people would be able to fit in it, but persuading himself that just this might already be enough proof of the abundance in hot spring water, Renya started of by scooping up hot water with one of the buckets provided.
Renya wasn’t all that knowledgeable about the etiquette when entering a bath, but he at least knew that it was necessary to wash off the dirt on his body before getting into the bathtub. After he had poured plenty of hot water onto his body, warming himself up to some extent, he rubbed the soap provided across his entire body creating bubbles all over.
Renya’s foamy body was so slender that one wouldn’t be able to imagine it being suited for combat. From the perspective of a third party, it didn’t look like his body had too many muscles. Based on Renya’s appearance, many would look down on him since this world’s soldiers looked muscular. However, the difference in physics was owed to Renya’s body having experienced a different way of forging compared to the soldiers of this world.
Usually Renya didn’t have a body that would emphasize its musculature. Only when it was necessary to use strength, tough muscles like twisted wires would stand out on his face.
Hearing something strange, Renya shifted his eyes towards the bathtub. The steam rising from the hot water was considerably dense. Coupled with the magnitude of the bath itself, the visibility wasn’t really good.
However, leaving the women’s bath aside, the only one using the bath was Renya. Thinking that he had misheard since there was no reason for anyone else to be here, Renya averted his eyes from the water, and focused on washing his body again.
Although Renya was washing his body, no obvious dirt was washed off since he regularly used the bathroom in his mansion. Even when he was in the Gordonal Barony, his room had been equipped with a proper bathroom.
However, given that sweat and similar things always stick to one’s body, Renya diligently cleaned himself with the soap, going as far as cleaning under his nails, and then, after scooping up some hot water with the bucket again, he let the water stream down his body that was covered with foam.
The hot water that streamed down his body continued onwards, getting drained towards the wall on the opposite side of the bath as the ground had apparently been built with a slight incline, and flowed into gutter-like holes in a corner of the washing place.
While being positively astonished by the well thought-out setup, Renya finally headed towards the bath. The edge of the bath was something like a stairway with the water depth gradually increasing as you advanced deeper within. Furthermore, it allowed you to enjoy the bath by sitting down on the steps.
It was set up in such a way that the water level reached up to Renya’s chest or slightly below it once he went down the first step, and sat down with his feet placed on the next step. With half of his body submerged in the hot water, Renya took a single, deep breath.
Going by Renya’s standards, the water temperature was lukewarm, but it still felt fairly good. And now that he thought about it, the cloudy, hot water was interesting since it had a slimy touch that somehow felt comfortable on his skin.
Renya enjoyed the hot water in this state for a while, but thinking that a Japanese person should submerge themselves up to their shoulders when in a hot spring, Renya rose half to his feet, and tried to lower his feet onto the next step. But in the next instant his body vanished within the hot water, as if he had fallen into a pitfall.
Even if I say so myself, I must admit that that just now was a fairly dumb sound. Without even the time to finish his thought, Renya ended up completely sinking in the bath. In other words, the stairway reached from the edge to the second step, but beyond that the water was deeper than Renya’s height, seemingly having been designed that way.
He might have noticed it if the water had been clear, but it was impossible to see the layout in the cloudy water, on top of which he wasn’t expecting the water to become so deep all of a sudden, Renya sank straight down into the deep water. Given that it was all too abrupt, he didn’t even have time to close his eyes. Probably because of the water temperature, or maybe because of the hot spring’s water quality, he was unable to keep his eyes open as they were assailed by a dull pain.
Notwithstanding all that, Renya somehow managed to surface again by swimming in a standing position without panicking, but now, unable to secure any visibility, his sense of direction had gone a bit haywire as he had struggled to some extent when sinking down, resulting in him not knowing in which direction the bath’s edge was.
If his body hadn’t been submerged in hot water, he could have applied the method he used when fighting against Emil’s clone in order to grasp the situation, but with his body being submerged in hot water, that wouldn’t work very well either.
The way sound was reflected and transmitted in air was different to how it behaved in water. Someone accustomed to the difference might have been able to adjust to the situation, but in Renya’s case it would ultimately be an auxiliary measure, and not something he was accustomed to.
Renya thought, Please spare me from having to call for help due to drowning in a bathroom, but around the time when he started to believe that having to call for help was inevitable since he still couldn’t open his eyes due to the stinging pain and had no other option other than loudly shouting for help, someone gently grabbed Renya’s hand even though there shouldn’t be anyone besides Renya in the bath .
“Renya, are you okay? Come this way for now. If you don’t rinse out your eyes, you won’t be able to open them because of the pain, you know?”
“…There’s something I’d like to say first, but…well, okay.”
Renya, who still couldn’t even open his eyes, immediately knew who the voice’s owner was because of their characteristic way of speaking. However, the owner of the voice was a woman. No matter what, it was wrong for that person to be here right now. Even while wondering what was going on, Renya moved through the bath while being led by her hand, and was finally able to sit down on the stairs part of the edge.
“Here, take this wet towel. This hot water is great for the skin, but I feel like the stimulus is slightly too strong.”
Accepting the towel which was apparently being held out by the presence, Renya first wiped his face with the towel that was completely wet before opening his mouth. Once he finished, the unpleasant stimulus, which had assailed his eyes, was wiped away, and Renya was finally able to open his eyes again.
“It might have been slightly cold because it was soaked in water I created with sorcery, but since there would be no point in a towel soaked with the hot water here, I’d like you to put up with it.”
“No, well, that part is fine, but…”
“Later we have to inform Frau that it’s necessary to prepare normal water in advance. Having said that, I wonder why the bath is so deep?”
“…Before that, why are you here, Croire?”
Once Renya turned towards Criore, he saw her puzzled expression. Without even trying to hide her slender, naked body, she was bending away from the bath with her knees on a part of the first step. She wasn’t even wearing a towel, freely exposing her pure white, unblemished skin. Even her smooth butt and her flat chest were on full display from where Renya was sitting.
Her long, blond hair being wet while partially submerged in the hot water is a sight for sore eyes, Renya thought, but originally this was the men’s bath, somewhere Croire shouldn’t be.
“If I hadn’t been here, you might have drowned, no?”
“I’m grateful for your help. …Were you also the source of that weird sound?”
The origin of the odd sound Renya had heard while washing his body was apparently Croire.
Having that pointed out, Croire said while gesturing as if waving it off, “I saw something beautiful.”
“…I’m going to charge you money, you lil’ peep.”
“I can get a front row seat if I pay for it!?”
Not having imagined even in his wildest dreams that Croire would react in such a way, Renya pushed the towel, he had used to wipe his face, into Croire’s face, who had been hanging over the bath’s edge the whole time, and pushed her body back while holding his head with his other hand.
“How did you sneak in here? It won’t be possible to let customers in if it’s that easy to pass back and forth between the women’s and men’s bath.”
“I think it will be alright. Normally it’s impossible.”
As Renya pondered whether he should have Frau revise the security protocol, Croire continued pointing at the wall dividing the male and female baths at the end of the bathtub after winding up the towel that had been thrust into her face, and tossing it into a bucket that had been placed outside the bath.
“As a matter of fact, that wall has a gap at the bottom, connecting this place with the bath over there.”
“Isn’t that no good then!?”
“Creating separate water channels in order to draw hot water for the women’s and men’s bath would be a hassle right? Anyway, as long as hot water continues to enter from one side, it means that both baths will be filled.”
“That’s an invitation to peep as much as you want, isn’t it!?”
Croire held Renya, who was panicked that there was a problem at the very root of the bath house’s design, back while waving both hands.
“No, not at all. The water around there is around three meters deep. Although you might call it a gap, it’s so narrow that I barely fit through it.”
Being told that, Renya rudely stared at Croire’s naked body, who was sitting next to him. Croire’s figure was very elvish with her narrow shoulders and her lacking proportions. As far as Renya could see of what was supposed to be her chest, if one was lenient it could be described as modest, and if one wasn’t lenient then one could say that she was lucky it wasn’t sunken in.
Croire splashed the bath’s hot water at Renya’s eyes, who had assessed that there was probably nothing there to sway, while maintaining a smile. Having been careless, Renya was completely covered by the water, causing him to bend backwards while holding his face as a dull pain assailed his eyes again.
“Just now you were thinking something veeerry rude, weren’t you?”
While allowing displeasure to seep into her voice without even trying to hide it, Croire took the towel from the bucket, and passed it to Renya, who was still holding his face, after wringing it out lightly. Receiving it, Renya wiped his face again, and protested to Croire with slightly teary eyes.
“If you don’t want me to think about it, then just hide them.”
Croire puffed up her cheeks at Renya who insinuated that he had thought about weird stuff because he could see her naked body.
“I don’t see the point in hiding them since it’s just you and me here.”
“I’m fine with you as you are, if you’re okay with it, though.”
“I’m…fine, you say?”
Croire quickly narrowed her eyes, and drew her body slightly closer towards Renya. The words she had uttered in a subdued manner made Renya feel a shiver travel up his spine. Her conduct and voice were so charming that he wondered exactly what he had permitted by saying he was fine with her, Renya even ended up wondering whether the blood flowing through his body was flowing upwards or downwards.
Meanwhile, Croire was trying to lean in closer to Renya, who had started to become so flustered that he started to hallucinate, in order to apply even more pressure on him was forcefully interrupted by the appearance of a certain intruder.
“Okay～ That’s the end of the indecent conduct～”
It was such a flat and lackluster voice that it immediately threw cold water on any overheating mind.
Once Renya turned to see what Croire was looking at with such overwhelming bloodlust as if her charming expression until now had been a lie, his mouth dropped partly open due to the figure standing over there imposingly, Renya couldn’t believe his own eyes.
“Enter the strongest power within the human realm～ the highest authority of the Trident Principality～ Archduchess Lydia Femme Fatale-chan～”
While introducing herself with rather dangerous titles and a slow voice lacking even a splinter of tension, the one entering through the men’s bath’s entrance with vigor, a smile all over her face and freely flashing her two hills that might very well be the highest peaks of humanity was a person, who definitely shouldn’t be here, and someone one could call Renya’s current boss, Archduchess Lydia Femme Fatale.
Because of her all too sudden entry, Renya couldn’t avert his eyes or look down, which would be the least problematic behavior in this situation. In other words, the outcome was him directly staring at the archduchess’ body which was on full display with her dauntedly posing in the nude, an action anyone would consider questionable for a woman.
As for impressions, you could somehow sum it up with the word, “bombastic.” Renya had harbored a similar impression of her when they first met, but either way, right now his mind was filled with the thought that the archduchess, who wasn’t hiding anything, was bombastic.
It wasn’t as though she was fat in any way whatsoever. However, Renya couldn’t say anything due to the intensity of the archduchess’ fleshiness which likely overpowered Rona by leaps and bounds. She possessed a beauty skirting the dangerous line of possibly becoming an indecent, comical figure if she were to gain a little bit more weight in some parts.
Moreover, Renya was astonished by the fact that there were no drooping parts to be found on her body which was endowed with such a quantity of mass. You could truly call it the finest masterpiece which conquered gravity with the natural capabilities of the human body.
But then again, Renya didn’t have a clue about whether the people of this world would be able to understand the concept of gravity even if he were to explain it to them.
Since Renya had been using the bath, he ended up looking up at the archduchess who was standing imposingly at the washing place, and that also resulted in the archduchess’ body having even more of an impact.
The archduchess flashed a faint smile of triumph due to Renya having become frozen with his eyes still pointed at her, unable to speak thanks to his blank amazement. For an instant, Renya was about to get pissed off, thinking that she might make fun of him, but immediately noticing that the archduchess’ eyes weren’t pointed in his direction, he tried to follow her line of sight, wondering what she might have seen to cause her to reveal a smile, and was immediately hit by a strange sensation.
He had been feeling the warmth of the hot spring water being transmitted by the part of his body submerged in the bath, but the part above the water’s surface had instead started to feel an intense chill. Once Renya timidly looked in the direction that he felt the chill was coming from, he instinctively pulled back while splashing water around due to the presence he found there.
A face completely void of any expression, with the eyes open wide. Even though the long, wet, blond hair had released a bewitching sex appeal until just moments ago, it was now repelling the light from the ceiling, giving it a metallic coldness like icy wires. The small, cute lips endlessly continued murmuring something with such a low voice that it was barely audible, but Renya had absolutely no clue what she was saying.
While calming his racing heart, which was throbbing for a completely different reason than just several moments ago, by placing his hand on top of it, Renya speculated that she was murmuring in elvish, which Croire hadn’t used very much recently, and changed his mind to elvish. Immediately following, the sounds, which he had been hearing, rushed at him as words which he could understand the meaning of – a meaning that terrified Renya.
“Crush kill burn tear beat break pierce stab split gouge torment strike kick whittle slice cut crush kill burn tear beat break pierce stab split gouge torment strike kick whittle slice cut crush kill burn tear beat break pierce stab split gouge torment strike kick whittle slice cut kill burn tear beat break pierce stab split gouge torment strike kick whittle slice cut kill burn tear beat break pierce stab split gouge torment strike kick whittle slice cut kill burn tear beat break pierce stab split gouge torment strike kick whittle slice cut kill burn tear beat break pierce stab split gouge torment strike kick whittle slice cut cut cut kill kill…”
Forgetting even the warmth of the hot water, Renya shuddered, believing that he was probably going to die here.
While scattering such intense pressure into her vicinity that it caused Renya, who hadn’t felt anything like it since coming to this world, to tremble, Croire stood up from the bath, swaying like a snake. Her elven, naked wet body was fairytale-like within the faint light, but right now Renya didn’t have the leeway to admire it.
Behind Renya, who was pondering whether he should try to do something about this or simply turn tail and run away, the archduchess looked at Croire, who was standing in the bath, and laughed scornfully while still standing boldly at the washing station.
“If you don’t have any bulgings～ the water easily flowing down your body must be nice, and on top of～ that, drying off should be easier too, right～?”
“Is it fine for me to take this as your last will, human!?”
Her mana, which swelled up explosively, turned into physical pressure, causing the surface of the bath to stir violently. As the water’s surface was splashing and billowing, although not enough to wash Renya’s body away, he began to subtly move deeper into the bath, trying to get as far away from Croire as possible, while protecting his eyes so that no hot spring water would get in them, seemingly having learned from him previous experiences.
“You have pissed me off. That crime deserves certain death.”
“Oh my, oh my～ I wonder, is that an inferiority complex of someone not possessing what others have～?”
Even though she was probably sensing the heavy mana pressure and anger thrown at her, the composure didn’t vanish from the archduchess’ expression and demeanor.
Wondering whether she might be hiding some kind of secret weapon, Renya observed the situation while using a bucket that had been tossed his way as a cover, but the archduchess was visibly nude, and it didn’t seem as though she had anywhere to hide stuff. But then again, since Renya had heard that there were countless places to hide something on a woman’s body, he knew that he couldn’t trust his eyes unconditionally, but either way, even if the archduchess had some kind of countermeasure at hand, it shouldn’t be suitable to deploy it in a bathroom.
Even while thinking that it might be a waste of breath, Renya called out to the two for the time being, “Can’t you guys at least enter a bath quietly? Or rather, this is the men’s bath. If you really want to have a fight, go back to the women’s bath.”
Renya thought that it was a decent remonstrance considering his current situation, but the reply only made it obvious to Renya that he had wasted his time.
“Renya, please stay silent and watch. This is a place where I can’t back off as an elf.”
“It’s the duty of a senior to train～ lasses who haven’t even given birth yet～”
Of course, even Renya wasn’t expecting that the situation would calm down with them obediently accepting his remonstrance. However, he had hoped to gain a little bit of time.
Because of the huge amount of mana gushing out of Croire’s body, the area around her was getting damaged. He needed that time to understand what the archduchess, who didn’t even budge within that violent mana wind, was planning to do.
Her own weight, and her leg strength, huh? Come to think of it, she’s Shion’s mother. If I consider physical strength, it wouldn’t be odd even if she were as strong or stronger than Shion. As for her weight, I think it’s needless to say, but it’s impossible for a body that boasts that much volume to be light. Still, her strength and sense of balance to remain standing in the face of that devastating mana pressure on top of the wet, slippery stone floor is nothing to scoff at, Renya thought in astonishment.
“In other words, it means she’s confident that she can somehow handle it at their current distance, even if Croire takes some lethal action.”
The probability that Croire would use sorcery indiscriminately, swallowing up the surroundings, was exceedingly low. After all, such a spell would naturally involve Renya, who was close to her. In that case, it was possible to predict that whatever spell Croire was going to use would only affect a single target.
If it was that kind of spell, it wouldn’t be all that difficult to knock out the caster, as long as one had the leg strength to instantly close the gap without missing the moment the spell was activated.
“In short, she’s saying she’s confident in battle since she isn’t a mere figurehead.”
Renya gazed at the two, who remained in a deadlock as they glared at each other, while being submerged in the hot water up to his shoulders, asking himself what he should do.
The quickest and easiest methods would be to either escape or to blow them both away. However, if I chose either of these methods, I wouldn’t be able to avoid damaging the bath house.
Leaving the archduchess aside, he felt that if he were to carry out an attack capable of knocking Croire out just the aftermath would cause considerable damage. And if he ran away, Croire wouldn’t need to worry about involving Renya anymore, losing all restraints in the process, and could in turn deploy an area of effect spell without any need for hesitation.
The second to best plan would be to side with one of them, and knock out the other one together. Since a two vs. one would be a very advantageous situation for the numerically inferior side, it’d be possible to wrap this up without much damage to the building, but it’d have the demerit that the party he didn’t support would develop ill will towards him.
He also considered calling the others, but immediately rejected the idea. At the moment there was no one in Klinge who would be able to stop the archduchess with words alone, and even if there was someone, who could stop Croire by force, it would definitely lead to the destruction of the building.
“I’m at a loss…”
It’d be a different matter altogether if he were okay with causing damage, but Renya didn’t want to break the facility, which Kurz, Grün, Keith and his men had built with utmost effort, without even having used it much yet. While pondering what he should do, Renya sunk into the water until it covered his shoulders.
The white, cloudy hot spring water, said to be good for the skin, felt somewhat slimy on Renya’s skin, causing Renya to suddenly realize, Come to think of it, hot springs that are good for the skin are often alkaline baths, aren’t they? Once he considered it like that, he could also explain the pain that assailed his eyes when water got in them.
The hot spring water that gushed in Klinge very likely contains a very strong alkaline. Because of its ability to dissolve old keratin, it’s known to cause beautiful skin, but on the other hand, it’s also known to cause a strong stimulus on the skin and mucous membranes. Its nature of breaking proteins apart is actually quite dangerous.
There existed cases where strong alkalinity was said to be more dangerous than strong acidity. Renya decided to ask Frau to add an installation that would provide normal water at the washing station after this. Going by how Renya felt after actually taking a bath himself, the alkalinity wasn’t so strong that it would have an immediate effect on the human body, but there were also people who should wipe their bodies ahead of time since it wasn’t quite clear what would happen if they allowed a weak alkaline to come in contact with their skin for an extended period of time.
Putting off those thoughts for later, Renya called out to Croire and the archduchess, who were still scowling at each other, in order to carry out the method to suppress them, which he had somehow managed to come up with, while soaking his hands in the hot spring water.
“Both of you, if you don’t give it a rest already, I will use force.”
“Renya, please be quiet. I can’t forgive this old hag who got in our way even though we had a good mood going at long last.”
“Fufufu…Margrave Kunugi is～ going to have a blast with my Shion～ by having a wet make out session with her in the bath later～. There won’t be any turns for a washboard elf～.”
What’s with that description? While wondering about that, Renya scooped up some of the bath’s water, albeit not much, with his palms.
“I warned you, okay? <Water Sphere>.”
The bath water Renya scooped up turned into two water bullets, and headed for the archduchess’ and Croire’s faces. However, the archduchess slapped it down with a wave of her hand, and Croire scattered it apart with a single sweep of the mana gushing out of her body.
The one raising her voice was the archduchess. Her ability to repel the water bullet, which came at her with a considerable speed, was something that could be expected of her, but the broken water bullet turned into a fine mist, spraying her face. Several drops got into her eyes. Although it was just a small amount, the stimulation assailed her eyes, causing the archduchess to stagger as she reflexively covered her face.
Croire tried to attack her, seeing it as a good opportunity, but Renya’s comment stopped her in her tracks.
Reflexively looking upwards as told, Croire noticed the sphere, which was filled to the brim with a lot of hot spring water, hovering above her head. For an instant she was unable to understand, but after a second, Croire understood that Renya had gathered the bath water above her head using <Manipulation>. She realized that the first water bullet served as a restraint and decoy, and moreover, that her next action wouldn’t be in time to deflect the sphere because she mowed down the decoy with her mana.
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Once he released his constraint through <Manipulation>, the large amount of bath water that had been floating in the air poured down on the archduchess and Croire. The water hit Croire directly in the face as she had looked up. The archduchess, who had been rubbing her eyes while holding her face due to the small amount of water that got into her eyes at the beginning, was hit diagonally by the water since she was in the middle of lifting her teary face after perceiving the falling water. Both screamed at the same time.
“”My eyes!? My eyeees!?””
The archduchess, who had been at the washing station, and Croire, who was washed out of the bath due to the pressure of the falling water despite being at the bath’s edge, were both suffering as they covered their faces with their palms. Their appearance as they rolled around was nothing but comical, being very far from having any sex appeal.
If she were to calm down and think it over, Croire would realize that she just needed to make some water with water sorcery and wash her face with it, but because her eyes were assailed by pain, she was apparently unable to make a calm judgment as she was crying out.
While sighing, Renya made some water using sorcery and poured it into a bucket that had been washed over in his direction as he looked towards the bathroom’s entrance. Renya had perceived since a little while ago that several presences had gathered by the entrance.
“What are you guys doing there?”
The ones who opened the entrance door very slightly and peeked inside through the gap were Shion, Rona, and Kilie.
“We came after mother…err, Her Majesty, the Archduchess to stop her, but…”
“Just as we were about to rush in, we couldn’t, so instead we decided to wait to see how things would develop.”
“Renya-san…you sure have a nice body, don’t you? Is it okay for me to take a picture with a recording magic tool?”
A bucket full of water hit Kilie’s face directly as soon as she voiced out the last comment. Of course it had been thrown by Renya. Kilie’s body slowly crumbled to the floor due to the impact of the bucket in addition to the strength behind Renya’s pitch.
The entrance door was thrown open because Shion and Rona, who were surprised by the water splashing around after the bucket hit Kilie, moved in order to dodge said water. Thanks to that, Renya could tell that their clothes had become quite disheveled. It looked like they had been taking a bath in the women’s section originally, but hurriedly chased after the archduchess who had suddenly rushed out after learning that Renya was in the men’s bath.
“…You will catch a cold, so warm yourself up.”
“R-Really? I-If you say so, Renya. P-Please excuse me then…”
Shion, who had apparently misunderstood Renya’s concern as acknowledgment for mixed bathing, started to get rid of her clothes in the dressing room. Rona looked back and forth between Renya and Shion, flustered.
Renya was about to correct the misunderstanding, but seeing the archduchess and Croire still rolling around in the nude, he reconsidered. In the present condition, where he had ended up seeing this, he felt the urge to do something similar to getting rid of a bad aftertaste.
While at it, I’d like to have some personnel clean up Croire and the archduchess who will likely continue rolling around until they run out of strength.
“Renya, is it really okay?”
“Do as you please. However, if you’re going to enter, cover your body with a cloth or something. And, if you can get in contact with Frau, tell her to prepare normal hot water so that people can rinse their bodies after getting out of the bath. As you can see, this hot spring water seems to be a bit too stimulating.”
Once Renya jerked his chin in the direction of the two rolling around on the floor, Rona lightly shook her head after seeing such a scene, and confirmed Renya’s request.
“Ah～ that was really terrible～”
Renya, who had been enjoying the view of Shion and the others preparing for the bath in the dressing room while coiling a cloth similar to towels around their bodies without having to peep, revealed a startled expression when he saw the archduchess abruptly standing up while speaking up as slowly as she normally did. Renya knew very well since he had experienced it as well, but the pain from the hot water, which Renya had used just now, entering one’s eyes wasn’t something that you could recover from in such a short amount of time.
Renya believed that it might be recognized as simple stimulation since <High Recovery> didn’t work on it, but either way, the archduchess’ recovery time was so short that it far surpassed Renya’s estimation.
Without minding Renya’s gaze, who was wondering just what was going on here, the archduchess slowly submerged her body in the bath while briskly rubbing her eyes. Just in case, Renya checked Croire’s side as well, but she had completely run out of strength due to continuously rolling around in pain, showing no signs of getting up while breathing roughly as she laid face down.
“Margrave～ it’s no good to look at a woman as if she’s a monster～”
Having submerged herself in the bath up to her shoulders, the archduchess grinned broadly, apparently having noticed Renya’s stare. As far as Renya could see, her eyes were only slightly bloodshot, but it seemed as if the pain had completely faded away. Without knowing what he should say in return, Renya said the first thing that came to his mind as he watched her huge boobs float in the water.
“How about covering your private parts a bit, Your Majesty?”
“I don’t possess～ anything so seedy-looking that I would get embarrassed if it’s seen～”
Once the archduchess replied in such manner while making her flabby boobs sway in the water, Croire reacted with a twitch while still laying on the floor, but since she didn’t appear to have recovered enough her strength to even get up, she gave no response except the quiet sound of her grinding her teeth in vexation which managed to reach Renya’s ears.
“Besides～ the towels provided here～ don’t have enough fabric～ even if I tried to hide them, you know～?”
Being told that, Renya once again turned his eyes towards the dressing room that was in full view since the door had been left open. Over there, Rona was in the middle of barely managing to cover up her body with one of the towels provided.
Of course it had been Frau who had prepared those towels, but Renya was sure that Rona was probably registered as having the biggest proportions in Frau’s mind. In which case, it was only natural that the towels wouldn’t be able to hide the archduchess’ body, seeing as it boasted a volume greater than Rona’s.
“Margrave～ you’re also happy if you can see them, right～?”
“I prefer a slightly hidden state over a showcasing.”
In response to Renya smoothly answering the archduchess, who had a broad grin on her face, with an unmoving expression, she started to splash bath water at Renya with a considerably disappointed expression, apparently extremely unhappy with his answer. Just as Renya blocked the water by holding his hands up, Shion and the other two, who had finished their preparations, modestly entered the bathroom.
“Renya, sorry for making you wait.”
“No…it’s not like I’ve been waiting, you know…”
Shion had slid into the water next to Renya while combing her hair up with a smooth, natural motion. The parts that shouldn’t be seen were properly covered by the cloth wrapped around her body, but just the parts that were visible were already so stimulating that they caused Renya’s heart to race. Moreover, because she sat down right next to him, the archduchess succeeded in splashing hot water into Renya’s face through a gap in his hands as he had unintentionally lowered them.
Even though it was quite painful, Renya had prepared himself, seeing as it was the third time, and thus he rinsed his eyes out with water from a bucket, which he had prepared outside the bath in advance, while bearing the stinging pain.
In the brief moment when Renya had his sight stolen, Kilie tried to wedge herself between Shion and him, but that ended with a short intermezzo as Rona grabbed her by the nape, and mercilessly slammed her into the bath far away from Renya. However, since Rona’s actions took place speedily and quietly while Renya was washing his eyes, he didn’t realize it.
When his sight returned, Renya could only see Rona sitting down next to Shion with a nonchalant expression, and Kilie splashing her own face with water she created through sorcery while clinging to the edge of the bath on the opposite end in panic.
“Just what are you people playing at…”
“Nothing in particular. By the way, Your Majesty, I wonder what I should think about the fact that you rushed out in the nude when you heard Renya was in the middle of taking a bath?”
The prerequisite of me being in the bath is weird, Renya thought, but didn’t say it out loud. Renya chose not to because he felt that he would get an answer that would be wrong on several levels the moment he spoke up.
“I wonder, was there～ anything more important～ than seeing～ the margrave’s nude body～?”
Renya sighed deeply after receiving a reply that he shouldn’t have heard even after he withheld his retorts.
“Mother…that’s not a response you should give in front of your own daughter.”
Shion protested while quietly placing a hand on Renya’s arm.
Just when Renya was about to warn her that it would be way too risqué in various ways for her to place her hand on his arm while wearing such an attire in a bath, the archduchess very smoothly replied to Shion’s objection, “Oh, as a matter～ of fact there～ was something～, an important topic～.”
“Pardon?” Renya asked back while wondering whether he had heard her correctly due to the totally unexpected reply.
“As I said～ there is～ an important matter to talk about～” The archduchess asserted with her slow way of speaking without a shred of tension, but even after hearing it again, Renya couldn’t perceive it as anything other than having misheard her.
Renya turned towards Shion who was still resting her hand on his arm. Since Shion’s slightly flushed face was closer than he had thought, Renya was startled, but while putting great effort into not showing his surprise, he asked Shion.
“Did you hear her say something about an important matter?”
“Yeah, I did, what about it?”
Having confirmed that he had apparently not misheard her, Renya turned towards the archduchess again.
“An important matter?”
“How often～ are you going to ask, margrave～?”
Renya stopped himself from arguing that asking the same question several times couldn’t really be helped since he couldn’t feel a serious atmosphere from her which would indicate that she was going to start talking about important matters. Moreover, he wondered whether a bath was the right place to start such a conversation, but he kept silent about that part, too. On top of inevitably feeling that it would be meaningless to repeat this exchange several times over, the other party was tentatively the country’s highest authority and his boss.
“So, what kind of important matter would that be?”
Renya urged her on, thinking that right now it might be better to go along with the archduchess in order to advance the conversation, even if there were some aspects that were somewhat hard to swallow. However, for some reason the archduchess put on an expression similar to a child scheming a prank, and said, “Saying it in a serious～ or casual manner～, which would be better?”
“Please go with the serious option.”
Renya thought, It probably won’t register as an important matter at the moment if it’s treated unseriously, but it was plain as day that the archduchess would dodge Renya’s argument with a “You sure～?” if he were to point it out.
“Eh～? What a bummer. Even though～ it’s about～ whether we should decide～ on a day for the wedding～”
“Mother, I can’t really turn a blind eye towards the fact that you’re using that as material for an unserious discussion.”
“By the way～ the bride is me～”
“Can I talk with you outside mother…?”
Rona grabbed Shion’s shoulder, who was about to stand up in the bath with glazed eyes, restraining her. Rona did this because she fully understood that the archduchess was joking around. Furthermore, if Shion were to go on a rampage here after her physical abilities shot up in Baron Gordonal’s city, it was almost certain that the building wouldn’t be able to evade fatal damage, regardless of how sturdy it might be.
If she had completely lost it, Shion wouldn’t be stoppable with only this level of restraint, but she apparently had enough reason left in her to understand that it was Rona’s hand that had been placed on her shoulder. While submerging herself into the bath again albeit reluctantly, she didn’t stop at simply placing her hand on Renya’s arm this time, but instead hugged it closely.
In Shion’s eyes, she was probably intending to make her own claim on Renya clear with this. However, as Shion’s naked body was only covered by a towel right now, and since there was no way for Renya, who had his arm embraced by her, to shake her off, the first thing he did was to put strenuous effort into continuously dismissing the various signals, which were transmitted from his arm to his brain, out of his consciousness.
“It’s a joke～, just a joke. Speaking of important matters, there are actually several～ First, I will be appointing Rona-chan as a saint～ in the name of the Trident Principality～”
An impressive splashing sound was audible from behind Shion. At the end of Shion and Renya’s line of sight, who had turned around wondering what had happened, Rona, who was apparently about to get up, spontaneously slipped and fell into the bath. Moreover, since the hot spring water had seemingly managed to get into her eyes, she started to struggle due to the pain she was experiencing for the first time. Right now Kilie was in the middle of frantically trying to pull Rona to the bath’s edge.
However, Kilie was almost dragged down into the depth of the water instead, probably because of the difference in body weight, but once she somehow managed to drag Rona to the edge, she carefully created some water and showered Rona’s head from above with it, telling Rona to wash her eyes which were assailed by the stimulus of the hot spring water.
“Y-Your Majesty!? Just what the heck is me becoming a saint about!?” Rona yelled out while rubbing her eyes, using the water gushing down on top of her head.
Renya had never heard the term saint before, and thus turned towards Shion looking for an explanation.
“Mmh? Oh, I see. Although the title is referred to as saint, it doesn’t really connect with anything for you, does it Renya?”
“Is it something like a hero?”
Renya tried to make an educated guess going by the word’s nuance, but Shion shook her head at his answer, “So far as it goes, standing and authority are attached to the title hero. However, a saint…how to describe it best? …is someone respected, allowed to carry out their function with a lot of flexibility, but they have no authority…can you understand from that explanation?”
Renya somewhat managed to reach his own interpretation through the explanation Shion somehow managed to come up with. He thought that it might be something like an honorary title.
“The religion originating from the Holy Kingdom, which～ had widely propagated until just recently, has become obsolete, right～? Because of that a new teaching originating from the Trident Principality has started to spread on the human continent～ Did you know about that?”
Except for Renya, the other three nodded at the archduchess’ words, but Renya tilted his head to the side in confusion. Renya irresponsibly believed that the religious group located in the Holy Kingdom had probably lost its power since they were the leading authorities behind the criminal he had annihilated, but it was the first time he heard that a new faith had sprung forth from the Trident Principality, taking their place.
“You see～ It seems to stem from a beautiful girl with twin-tails and six pairs of shining wings standing at the bedside of several of our country’s priests～ and proclaiming that she’ll hand out plenty of divine protections～ if they were to～ start a new religion, or something like that～”
Renya was astonished at how this whole process got started by an action similar to a bar’s solicitor calling out to people. Apparently his thoughts showed on his face. Shion smiled, Rona made a face full of mixed emotions, and Kilie started to splash the hot spring water behind Renya for some reason.
After silencing Kilie by driving a cluster of hot spring water into her face with <Manipulation> as if to counterattack her while thinking, What would you have done if you had splashed some water into my face?, Renya faced the archduchess.
“Well, all those priests～ afterwards said that they received an oracle～ that Rona Chevalier, who’s currently staying at Klinge, should be nominated as saint～”
“Also from that beautiful twin-tailed girl or whatever?”
“Yeah, she seems to be the main subject of worship～”
“What’s the merit of being acknowledged as a saint?”
The archduchess revealed a faint smile at Renya’s question because she understood that titles were insignificant to Renya and that he apparently saw no worth in considering something like the religious implications stemming from it.
“As a result I’ll have to take her back to the capital for some time, but～ she’ll be able to read as many of the church’s treasured books as she wants～”
“Where’s the merit in that?”
“It’ll widen her repertoire of divine arts～”
In the first place, Rona held the position of an apprentice, and thus she only had a limited number of divine arts at hand as people of her standing had restricted access to information about them. Unlike sorcery, divine arts couldn’t be acquired with money. You wouldn’t be shown or taught any divine arts unless you piled up a fair amount of achievements for a church and held a reasonably high position within the organization.
However, when it came to a saint, it was a position that allowed one to have insight into any divine art without restrictions. Jumping to such a position in one leap from being an apprentice could certainly be called advantageous.
“It’s not that I won’t be allowed to come back from the capital or anything along those lines?”
Once Rona asked so while pondering that the title might have some aspects worthy of consideration, the archduchess turned towards Rona, and asked in return, “Maybe if there’s some reason～ that you wouldn’t want to return～?”
“Unthinkable. My place will forever be by Shion’s side.”
The archduchess smiled in satisfaction at Rona making such a clear-cut statement.
“Then you just have to return, right～? I’d also hate to incur the margrave’s wrath by restraining you against your will～”
“Wouldn’t it be fine to just have the headquarters of the church relocated to Klinge then?”
As Kilie cut in, Renya suddenly wondered whether it was really alright to allow Kilie, who ought to be an outsider, to listen in on the important matters that the archduchess was saying. Even though such a question should be a natural one that anyone should be able to come up with, no one except for Renya seemed to be bothered by this issue.
“If that’s what you say～ it might be fine to consider that option～”
Moreover, the archduchess obediently agreed with the words of a simple peddler. Renya didn’t even try to hide his suspicion as he wondered just who the hell this person might actually be.
Unclear as to whether Kilie knew what Renya was thinking, she stared directly into his eyes, returning a broad smile that seemed somewhat shady to Renya.
What the archduchess referred to as an important announcement was apparently a considerable shock for Rona. Renya decided that he should leave Rona, who kept mumbling under her breath with her face cast down as she brooded over the matter with half her body submerged in the hot spring, to her own devices for the time being.
“Mother, is that all you wanted to talk about?”
The archduchess suddenly and forcefully threw out her chest with a somewhat triumphant expression upon Shion’s question. Seemingly perceiving this from the archduchess’ presence, Croire repeatedly twitched while still laying face down on the floor, but Renya made an effort to ignore this as well.
“I said that it’s several～ matters, didn’t I? You simply don’t listen～ to what others say, Shion-chan～”
“Haah…but, could there be any other matter as important as appointing Ro as a saint?”
Renya couldn’t really connect with the story, but the appointment of a saint seemed to be a rather major issue. Renya believed that Rona’s reaction might be reasonable in such a case, but even Renya couldn’t come up with a matter that could be just as important.
“You see～ I’m going to appoint you as a general certified by the Trident Principality～ and pass on the ancestral armor～ of the Fatale House…”
Shion immediately gave an indifferent reply, without putting any emotions into her words.
Stuck between Shion, who seemed to enjoy the hot bath with a composed expression, and the archduchess, who completely froze in a state of wanting to insist on it, Renya didn’t know how to deal with the silence that had suddenly occurred between the two. He let his eyes wander, looking for some assistance, but Croire remained motionless, Rona continued mumbling something under her breath, and Kilie was whistling while looking into the far distance, apparently having no interest in getting involved with someone else’s affairs.
As Renya was glaring at Kilie’s profile, believing that her acting was way too obvious, the archduchess, who finally revived, asked Shion in a tone teeming with disbelief, “Why～ Shion-chan～?”
“I’m not suited to be a general or something like that…in the first place, with our family armor you mean the one used by our honorable ancestor, right?”
“Correct～ It’s that black, hard, big thing～”
While grinning broadly again after completely changing her attitude, the archduchess made sure to lean forward in Renya’s direction. Harboring a feeling of dejection as he wondered what he should think about her phrasing, Renya scooped up hot spring water with his palms, and splashed it into the face of the archduchess to counter her approach.
Without looking at the result of his counterattack, Renya asked Shion, “What kind of armor is it?”
“It’s a set of plate armor that covers your whole body. Certainly, it’s big and black, but more than that, it’s heavy. I heard that my ancestor could easily move around while wearing it, but that’s impossible for me. It’s been passed down that the armor will repel any kind of blade or magic attack, but if you use that many thick armor plates, that’s only natural.”
“T-That’s not all it has going for it～”
Apparently having been more than cautious enough, the archduchess had managed to fend off Renya’s counterattack somehow. Still, as she would be troubled if the water got in her eyes after dripping down from her hair or face, she wiped it off with her hands and arm, and now that she had become even warier of Renya’s follow up attacks, she didn’t try to go for another approach.
“Even as a weapon～ it’s amazing～”
“You mean that thing where it’s unclear whether it’s an iron plate or a sword, mother?” After answering the archduchess with a tone that made it clear she was fed up and bored, Shion turned towards Renya, and began to explain, “It’s a longsword with a crest that’s said to have been used by our ancestor as well, but…the blade’s length is around my height, and its width is approximately equal to Croire’s shoulder width.”
Since the comparison targets were in front of his eyes, Renya could more or less picture its shape. Even if he couldn’t imagine its detailed molding, it would be a great sword with a length exceeding two meters if you added the hilt part, assuming that Shion’s explanation was correct. If it had been created with its whole body being made out of metal, its weight would be beyond imagination, making it very difficult for Renya to consider it a weapon that could be handled by a single person.
It’s just a marginal note, but the one with the smallest shoulder width among those present in the bathroom right now was Croire.
Making sure to keep the comment, “It’s because she has nothing that needs to be supported,” locked away in his heart, Renya brought up another matter.
“You won’t be able to wield something like that, will you?”
At least Renya himself had absolutely no intention to fight while swinging around something so heavy, but after thinking about it for a little while, Shion answered in a way Renya hadn’t anticipated.
“If it’s just swinging, that’s possible one way or another.”
“One way or another, you say…?”
If it’s simple physical strength, she might soon exceed me, I suppose, Renya assessed. Then again, Shion’s body doesn’t look all that muscular at a glance.
That meant Shion’s body was forged in a way similar to Renya’s. From Renya’s point of view, it could be called ideal, but he also felt like the effect had gone slightly too far.
“No matter how you think about it, fighting with such a large sword is impossible.”
“Though I think just being able to swing it is already amazing enough.”
“That evaluation doesn’t really make me happy…is what I’d like to say here. Anyway, mother, even if you want to confer such a boorish, heavy armor to me, I’ll turn it down since it’s useless.”
The archduchess dropped her shoulders in disappointment due to Shion’s clear-cut rejection.
“Even though I wanted you to use it～…”
“If you want to confer something to me either way, make sure it’s usable, mother.”
Renya tried to overlap his image of the armor he had heard about just now with Shion’s appearance as she said this to her discouraged mother. The image of Shion wearing a thick plate armor suit while swinging a great sword as tall as herself around coupled with her rampage from the other day only reminded Renya of the term Berserker. For some reason he felt like he could even hear a rough snuffling in the background.
It was something he didn’t want to experience first hand, but considered as possibly quite amusing to watch from a safe distance.
Renya was absentmindedly following such thoughts, but he was suddenly pulled back to reality by a stinging pain assailing his arm. Since the pain originated from the side where Shion was, he turned his eyes towards her. Over there, Shion had apparently stabbed her nails into Renya’s arm with quite a bit of strength but not enough to penetrate through his skin.
After looking at his skin that had become slightly red, he shifted his eyes to Shion’s face.
Shion spoke up while staring at Renya with a huffy look, “Your face made it seem like you were thinking about something very rude.”
Being told that, Renya let his eyes wander so as to gloss over the fact that he was more than aware of what she was talking about. Perceiving from his actions that her words had apparently hit bull’s eye, Shion grabbed Renya’s shoulder, violently shaking it left and right.
“You were most likely thinking that it would be very funny for me to look like a thick headed iron woman, weren’t you!?”
“I haven’t gone that far.”
“That far means you’ve thought about something close to it, right?”
Renya frowned, realizing that his shoulder was about to complain about the pain anytime soon. Even though her instantaneous power is a different matter altogether, her continuous strength has reached quite a high level, too, Renya suddenly thought as he was looking at Shion who was shaking his shoulder.
Shion’s equipment had never changed since they met for the first time. The weapons she used were only items buyable in stores or the training weapons Renya made for her. Her armor hadn’t changed since their first meeting at all, but although it looked like it had been made carefully, it also didn’t leave the category of being a carefully made set of armor.
Given that clothes were outside Renya’s field of expertise, he didn’t know what would be good, but compared to Renya’s clothes, which Frau had especially created for him, Shion’s clothes were remarkably inferior in performance, even if they were doing their job as armor. Renya wondered whether it was about time for her to change them.
At present Renya didn’t know how much or who he would fight in the future, but he couldn’t shake the feeling that this girl would be at his side, no matter what he might fight down the road. For better or worse, Shion had obtained the ability which allowed her to do as much, moreover she was fully aware of this herself. On the technical side she still had a long way ahead of her, but now that she had gotten rid of the shackle known as lacking ability, Renya believed that it might be difficult to keep Shion away from the upcoming battles.
Isn’t the Fatale family’s armor the perfect time to change her equipment into something that will compensate for her technical shortcomings then?
“Well, leaving aside turning you into an iron daruma…”
It looks like my preceding Lost haven’t introduced the concept of daruma in this world.
“Your Majesty, I will take care of Shion’s equipment. Based on my way of thinking, stuffing her into equipment that’s hard to move in would have a bad outcome as it would lower her combat prowess instead.”
“Really～? If that’s what you say, Margrave Kunugi～ it can’t be helped, I guess～ I just thought that it’d be a waste～ to keep it around～ as a useless ornament～”
The archduchess’ expression as she said this didn’t look all that unhappy in Renya’s eyes.
What if she has brought up this topic while being fully aware that Shion wouldn’t accept the ancestral armor of the Fatale House from the very beginning? Or maybe the archduchess brought it up with the intent of telling me that I should do something about Shion soon, seeing as the battles around me have been gradually getting more intense, Renya considered.
I can’t believe that she’s a person that would choose such a roundabout way, but if it comes to the highest authority of a nation, there might exist various circumstances that have to be considered when requesting something from a subordinate. Either way, let’s not pursue the matter any further.
To begin with, the only one that knew the whole truth was the archduchess who had brought up the topic. It was also possible that all of Renya’s guesses were just a result of him overthinking the matter. The archduchess might have seriously planned to confer the ancestral armor, which was apparently just a clump of iron, to Shion.
The possibility of either story being true is around 50-50, I suppose, Renya thought to himself.
Renya’s current impression of the archduchess was that she seemed absentminded, but actually wasn’t, and that she was a sharp and capable person, albeit having some parts to her that didn’t fit that description at all.
“I think～ I can feel relieved if it’ll be～ based on your judgment, Margrave～ Please take care of it, okay～?”
“At your will.”
“I don’t have a third topic～”
Renya, who had wondered whether the archduchess still had more important topics to discuss, let out a relieved sigh secretly. No matter how you looked at it, it had become a conversation far too long to be held in a bath.
Rona, who had been silent since a while ago, now had a bright red face for some reason and her head had started to sway unsteadily. Even Croire, who still hadn’t moved after collapsing, might have become completely boiled by the bath’s steam since she had completely run out of strength. Shion’s expression showed that she still seemed to be fine, but Renya could perceive how even the archduchess, the originator of all the topics in question, was gradually starting to look beside herself.
“Your Majesty, should we change locations? I feel like everyone’s going to faint from dizziness very soon.”
“You’re right～ There’s just a little something left, however～…”
Seemingly understanding that she was getting close to a dangerous point herself, the archduchess groaned while deliberating. At this point, Kilie, who had been watching their exchange quietly until now, cut in.
“Your Majesty, should I inform Margrave-sama about the remaining topic?”
“Hmm? Let’s seee～ it might be smart～ to tell the margrave about the remaining topic～ and leave the decision up to him, I guess～”
Renya thought that the archduchess’ response was odd, but he tried to question her about something else.
“Your Majesty, is that peddler over there an acquaintance of yours?”
“That girl, you know～ is a member of our intelligence unit～ Since the last topic comes from them～ it might be easier to have that girl explain the rest～”
“Intelligence unit, eh?”
Once Renya looked at Kilie as if scrutinizing a shady crook, Kilie quietly averted her face from Renya, pretending that it’s a very natural occurrence. In Renya’s mind the idea of strangling her until she spat out the truth popped up, but if she really was a member of the intelligence unit, she should have been trained to endure something like that. Renya, who wasn’t a specialist, had no confidence that he could force her to divulge the information.
“Shion, I’m going to listen to Kilie’s issue, so can you take Her Majesty, Rona, and Croire with you, and get out first?”
“I want to hear…no, I got it.”
Shion was on the verge of objecting, but she decided to follow Renya’s instruction, apparently having reconsidered. She got out of the bath with the cloth still wrapped around her body, put Croire on her back, lifted Rona and the archduchess up at their waists with her arms, and exited the bathroom. Her bare feet made squishy sounds as she walked across the wet stone floor.
Renya ended up fascinated by her movements as his eyes unintentionally followed her back since she had picked up the three very energetically without delay. Once Shion vanished inside the dressing room, closing the door behind her, Kilie quickly brought herself next to Renya from where she had been, which was quite far away.
“Intelligence unit, eh…”
“Tentatively it’s not a lie. Though I would be troubled if you keep staring at me with such doubtful eyes. For the time being, there’s two pieces of information I can tell you.” Kilie formed a V sign with her right hand. “The first is related to the demons’ domain. Information has completely stopped coming in from that side. It seems as if some kind of barrier has been deployed over there. The reconnaissance units that were close to the demon domain, have apparently become unable to enter the demons’ domain.”
Renya didn’t know how long the border between the human and demon domains might be, but assuming that the entire area has been covered by something like a barrier that prohibited entry, the barrier’s scale had to be enormous. For an instant Renya believed that there must be some kind loophole somewhere, but he immediately denied such a possibility. It’s because he believed that it was impossible for an organization whose sole purpose was to gather intelligence to provide the archduchess with information resulting from such a sloppy investigation.
However, assuming that to be true, it means that a very massive barrier has been deployed, which likewise raises the questions of where they obtained this much energy and for what reason they deployed such a large barrier.
Before Renya could rack his brain over a question without an answer, Kilie brought up the second piece of information, “Second, we still don’t know how it’s with the other continents, but…it appears that things like coastlines and mountains on the human continent have started to collapse.”
Leaving her remark aside, Renya, who happened to have a slight inkling as to why the coastlines and mountains had started to collapse, was panicking for a moment that those incidents might have come to light unexpectedly, but obviously having anticipated Renya’s worries, Kilie shook her head.
“It’s unrelated to your deeds, Renya-san. The mountains turn into sand and sink into the ground, the coastlines break apart and fall into the ocean. These kinds of events have been observed all over the place.”
Renya was hard pressed for words as he tried to say something. It’s because Renya actually had an idea about the cause for these events as well. Because the resources to maintain the world were decreasing, this world was slowly but steadily heading towards its ruin unbeknownst to its residents. However, it was very likely that no one in this world besides Renya knew about that piece of information.
I wonder whether the collapse of the mountains and coastline aren’t omens of this world’s decline.
Having arrived at that idea, Renya felt a cold shiver run up his spine.
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