|Author: Kisasaki Suzume
|Original Source: Syosetu
|English Source: Re:Library
Setulev was a water country. Even though they controlled the power of nature with the Regalia, there were frequent water-related disasters. However, precisely because of this, they put a lot of effort into flood control. The city’s structure was designed to prevent fatal damage from water disasters.
And the people who lived in this land were also resilient. The rushing waters had completely swept away the market in the city. But new tents were already set up in the square.
The selection of goods was slightly different from usual. Hearing that the city of Kugutfulm had been affected, shrewd merchants had come in.
Items that would be used to clean up the city… shovels, wheelbarrows. Substitutes for household belongings that might have been washed away… dishes, furniture, and even everyday magic items. But the most abundant products were preserved foods and dishes cooked on the spot.
Those whose kitchens had been swept away or those who were evacuating purchased these to satisfy their immediate hunger.
With hastily set up stalls and the people who visited them, the market was filled with a bustling atmosphere that was more cluttered than usual. Members of the Golden Helmet and Monica entered the crowd to have a slightly delayed lunch.
“Golden Helmet and… Oh, it’s you!”
“Look, the hero’s come for a visit!”
As soon as they caught sight of Lucella, the people present erupted with excitement. And Lucella couldn’t help but feel a twinge of regret, thinking that she should’ve probably stayed home and asked someone else to get something for her.
Apparently, there was some bard going around telling the story as a solace to the victims, going off about how Lucella saved them in the mountains, the details of the recent battle, and so on, all while embellishing everything by about eighty percent.
Right now, everyone in the city wants to hear that kind of story. Lucella was rapidly gaining recognition in the city of Kugutfulm.
“Kyaa! My god, she’s so cute!”
“Hey, don’t push!”
“You’re our benefactor, give us a handshake!”
With the positive reputation spreading, it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, but the problem was that wherever she went, people flocked to her, causing disruptions to her actions.
This was an unprecedented event in Lucella’s life so far. She felt overwhelmed when people approached her with goodwill and admiration. Perhaps she ought to learn how to handle people from Wein, who was known throughout the city.
“Hey! Make way, make way! We’re here to grab a bite to eat, clear the path!”
Wein bellowed, holding back the surging crowd. He then took the lead and forged ahead, parting the flow of people.
“If you’re fine with our food, you can have as much as you want. It’s on me. Take it!”
“Shut up, just take the money. You’ve got your own life to live too.”
Wein pushed the money at the generous middle-aged man, and the group finally got their lunch.
Around the area where food stalls and makeshift shops lined up, there were also chairs and tables set up for dining. As the lunchtime rush subsided and the number of people decreased, luckily, the five of them managed to find seats.
“Oh, does that mean Ms. Kafal is moving?” Viola asked, using a magical earthenware bowl1 and a fork. She slurped the noodles with a refined technique, and the broth didn’t splatter despite her vigorous eating. It was either a magic trick or acrobatics.
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“Yes. Given that Mount Kuguse is likely to become dangerous in the future, I anticipate being in the city more often. If the people of the city are accepting, I think it might be a good idea to relocate our nest closer to Kugutfulm,” Lucella responded while enjoying a spiced fish ball soup, soaking bread in it before eating.
Today, Kafal was not around. She had retracted her clone as well and was busy choosing a new location for their dwelling up in the mountains.
Originally, Kafal had established her nest around the 80% point on the southern slope of Mount Kuguse
However, the northern side of Mount Kuguse was slated to be converted into a fortified defensive position by Setulev’s military forces. Given the prospect of it becoming a battleground during times of conflict, the idea of relocating the nest to a somewhat safer spot gained appeal.
Even if Kafal were to offer assistance in battles, there wasn’t a pressing need to situate the nest close to the stronghold. Kafal could effortlessly span the mountain in a single flight, rendering such proximity unnecessary.
—If a war starts, this might turn out to be surprisingly advantageous.
While the intention behind the move was to evade involvement in combat, if Setulev actively embraced warfare, the decision could serve a dual purpose. Lucella was prepared to collaborate, yet she was cautious about being excessively leaned upon. Being employed as a mere utilitarian instrument wouldn’t serve the best interests of either party in the long run.
However, they couldn’t needlessly frighten the general populace, so they thought that living too close to the city might not be suitable…
Yet, in the recent battle, Kafal coincidentally ended up in a visibly protective role for the city. Now, if they were to move closer to the city, they would likely be welcomed with open arms.
“The issue is that being too close could potentially lead to problems. Near my mother’s nest, there was neither spring water nor hot springs. My mother used to say, ‘The fire’s energy is too strong, so the water flees.’ But… if we move near the city and inadvertently disrupt the hot springs, it would be a major problem. So, we’re looking for a place that seems safe to nest.”
“I see. However, if they have Ms. Kafal’s assistance, couldn’t the city create a spa facility deeper in the mountains than before? Even considering contingencies, I think it’s not a bad idea to be prepared.”
“Oh… right, indeed, that makes sense.”
She only just remembered about it.
In the past, Kugutfulm had established spa facilities deeper in the mountain and drew hot spring water from there. However, due to the presence of Kafal residing there and the proliferation of the Variants, the city couldn’t continue this practice. They had to make use of the hot springs near the city instead.
However, the circumstances surrounding the city have changed from their initial assumptions. The Variants had decreased (although there might be more in the future), and Kafal was displaying a cooperative stance towards Setulev.
Considering this, it was in the city’s interest to explore more efficient resource utilization.
“What’s your plan? If you want, I can talk to the lodging association for you.”
“Well… yes, please.”
“Alright, leave it to me.”
Lucella decided to take up Wein’s offer.
Regardless, if they were to move closer to the city, discussions with relevant parties would be necessary. If Kafal were to casually appear and engage in negotiations, it might compromise her dignity. In that case, mediating with people would be Lucella’s role.
“Well then, haste makes waste. I’ll head there as soon as I’m done eating.”
“Yes, indeed… There are so many curious eyes around, let’s finish our meal quickly.”
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Unnatural clusters of people still lingered in the surroundings.
People buying baked goods and drinks from the nearby shops and idly chatting while loitering seemed unusually abundant. The gazes and whispers were unsettling. Perhaps this was how a captured monster in a sideshow might feel.
“Lucella. You could have waited at the inn, but you came along for Monica’s sake, didn’t you?”
Viola whispered discreetly.
Monica was eating a dish of flaked grilled fish mixed with sweet and savory sauce, placed on top of rice. She had a slightly stern expression, eating in silence… or perhaps she was deeply engrossed in thought.
“Not many people are aware of the whole situation, but without you, Lucella, the focus might have shifted more onto ‘my sister,’ I suppose.”
“Well, I didn’t really think it through to that extent, but I had a hunch that something might happen…”
Monica had gotten herself a pair of glasses. They weren’t as thick as Viola’s bottle-bottom glasses, but they were delicate, candy-like glasses with a golden frame.
Though the design was different, they were likely of the same kind as Viola’s Mob Glasses. This magical item had the effect of confusing the viewer’s perception, making the wearer’s face appear as someone else’s.
Lucella, perhaps due to an unusually high resistance to magic, felt no effect whatsoever, but ordinary citizens wouldn’t likely notice it.
It seemed that not many people in this city were aware that Viola was the former Crown Princess Francesca. However, it wasn’t long after the commotion on the northern side of the mountain involving the two sisters. If rumors spread, some might start to connect the dots.
Lucella felt it might be risky to take her eyes off Monica. The more attention Monica drew, the higher the risk of someone with ill intentions targeting her.
Well, Lucella thought she could keep things safe as long as she was around. In fact, if her presence ended up attracting more attention and making Monica less conspicuous, that would be fine.
“As a thank you, I’ll give you some carrots.”
“….Do you happen to dislike carrots?”
Carrots cooked in a fish-based broth were dropped onto Lucella’s plate.