The corpse hidden under the moonlight
The boy answered helplessly after beingtroubled for a while. Well, even if we had been together for half ofthe day, we were still people that he had only just met earlier. Itwas understandable that he would feel disheartened. However, he couldnot simply remain alone in a place like this. If he did, he mightmeet someone as nasty as that horrible guy from before.
Even though the boy had responded, hemade no move to stand up from the fountain so we decided to waitpatiently. Good intentions could not be forced upon people. Raisinghis head towards the sky with closed eyes, the boy called out to hismother one last time. We had spent so much time searching that I didnot think it would reach her. Yet―.
We heard a woman's voice behind us,calling out over and over again.
Opening his eyes, the boy startedrunning towards her. I really had not expected her to appear! I couldnot help thinking this as I saw the parent and son hugging eachother. Roxy-sama and I both felt overjoyed.
"Yes, I wondered what would happenfor a moment, but I guess this is it."
We watched their reunion. Roxy-sama'shand brushed against my left one. Although she had not said anything,her emotions flowed in through the <Mind-reading> skill. Thosefeelings aimed towards me were warm and tender, despite the fact thatI was unworthy.
After embracing for a while, it seemedlike they finally calmed down. Then, the boy began to talk to hismother. He was pointing at us, so I could roughly guess what he wassaying. As soon as she heard this, the mother walked over.
"For taking care of my child… Thankyou. You really saved us when he got lost."
"Big brother, big sister, thanks!"
"Don't get lost again, yeah?"
"Stay close to your mother, okay?"
The mother explained to us that whileshe was delivering goods to a store, he had disappeared as she tookher eyes off him for a moment. When she noticed that her son wasgone, she searched frantically. At first, she had combed through themain avenue before it occurred to her that he might have wanderedinto a back street. Thinking this, it seemed that the mother had beenlooking through a different route than ours. In that case, they wouldnever have met no matter how hard they searched… This was certain.
In the end, she was exhausted from notbeing able to find her son, so she had come here to drink from thefountain. They had met up again purely by coincidence because wehappened to take a break here. Despite this, I wanted to believe thattheir reunion was the result of their feelings.
While the mother thanked us, thetiredness caught up to the boy… and he fell asleep in her arms. Aswe parted from the mother and son on the way home, we felt a weightlift from our shoulders. Telling a lost child that their guardiancould not be found really did leave behind a bitter feeling. It wasthe same when I said earlier that we would continue looking tomorrow.
I should not do things that I wasinexperienced in. With the orphan girl previously, I had most likelybeen spirited because I had grown a little stronger. Maybe I hadbecome too confident.
Roxy-sama was still looking towards thepath where the parent and child had gone, even though they hadalready disappeared. Eyes shining with tears, this image of her wasvery precious. A single tear ran down her cheek, reflecting the lightfrom the setting sun. Suddenly, Roxy-sama noticed my stare and turnedto me with a smile.
"It's great, isn't it?"
I could not reply. Her appearance wastoo much and I felt my chest tighten. I was captivated by her and inmy embarrassment, I forgot the breathe. My face was probably flushedred. I just hoped that the colours of the sunset made it lessnoticeable. A servant like me should not show such an expression tohis master.
"What's wrong, Fay?"
"No, it's nothing. If you don'treturn home soon, the superior will scold you."
"When that time comes, let's bescolded together."
I wanted to say that I did not want to,yet one look at her face and I did not care anymore. Well, I involvedRoxy-sama in the lost child situation after all. It was half my faultthat she would be reprimanded by that scary superior.
"Yes, I will accompany you."
"Good. Then, let's go home."
She walked as imposingly as ever.Despite her disguise as a town girl, she was still a Holy Knightinside. I headed back to the Heart Family's residence withRoxy-sama ― an affectionate and respectul master.
Many things happened today, although itwas unforgettable for me. She was a wonderful person. I felt blissfulfrom the bottom of my heart to have become Roxy-sama's servant.
"Fay, what's making you look thathappy?"
"It's a secret."
"Eh, it's fine isn't it… Pleasetell me."
"That's one thing I can't do."
Roxy-sama tried to make me confess bypuffing out her cheeks. I would end up succumbing to her soon. Itwould be wonderful for this kind of daily life to continue.
It was time for my usual night hunt. Ihad purposely appeared in front of a few warrior parties severaltimes. From these accumulated sightings, I gathered that they saw meas a fiendish apparition and had nicknamed me Lich. A monster with aragged black hood and a fleshless body. Exactly the disguise I hadaimed for.
The sky was cloudless yet againtonight, perfect for night hunting. Warriors with notable weaponswere heading out to the Goblin Meadow and Hobgob Forest. In the midstof this, I ran freely through the moonlit Goblin Meadow as Lich. WhenI saw a goblin, I would slice off its head and if I came across awarrior, I would deliberately let them catch a glimpse. As I repeatedthese actions, the number of warriors who saw my existence as aproblem gradually increased.
Taking a breath after killing tengoblins, I heard screams erupt from the grass.
"It's Lich! Mukuro is here,everyone run!"
As soon as he saw me with my skullmask, the warrior's serious face turned pale and fled. Recently,they had been calling me Mukuro. The reason for this is that I wasoften seen standing atop a pile of dead goblin bodies (corpses). Itwas rumoured among the warriors that the goblin-loving Lich ―Mukuro would start to attack people soon. (TN: Fate's nickname,Mukuro (マスク), waswritten in kanji inside the brackets as 骸which means corpses. Since the author used katakana for hisnickname, I've kept it as a direct translation of thepronunciation.)
This was because monsters naturallypreferred humans. Although this was an unusual monster, it woulddefinitely aim for people sooner or later… Even the warriors at thebar I frequented said this as they drank sake, anxiety on theirfaces. The bar owner had also said that while Mukuro's appearanceswere currently limited to midnight, there had not yet been anynoticeable impact on the trade economy. However, if the rumours wereto spread outside of the capital, it would be a different story. Ifthe logistics became stagnant, the price of goods would rise whichwould put pressure on the management of the bar.
I had apologised to the shopkeeper inmy heart, yet still waited for the Holy Knight to appear. However,there was an unavoidable matter I had to attend to the next day. Awhile ago, I had been invited by Roxy-sama to accompany her to theHeart Family territory. Having spent so much effort to lure out thesecond son of the Breric Family, Hado… It was truly a pity.
"You seem depressed. Does Fay dislikecoming to the territory…?"
Inside the horse-drawn carriage,Roxy-sama pouted at me. There was no one else with us. Yet, my mindwas lingering on other thoughts like being unable to resume theoperation of drawing out Hado from the Breric Family. Not good, notgood. I would ruin Roxy-sama's happy return like this.
"Not at all. I'm looking forward toit very much!"
She looked at me very doubtfully. Did Ireally have such a bored expression earlier?
"It's true! It's grape harvestingseason right now, right? It would definitely be fun to pick grapestogether!"
"Well, at least you remembered."
Every year during this time, she wouldreturn to the territory and harvest grapes with her people. Itappeared to be one of the few events where Roxy-sama could interactwith them. She had been in an exuberant mood ever since climbing intothe carriage, so I could see that it was very important. Roxy-sama'sterritory was located in the mountains north of the capital. It wascurrently autumn, however, it became a bleak and snowy landscapeduring winter.
Despite this, the lands were fertile asa result of the residents uniting together to constantly improve thesoil over many generations. More than just harvesting produce forstorage during the severe winters, they now shipped large quantitiesto the Royal Capital. Apart from their wine, it was the HeartFamily's pride to be able to supply all manner of crops to thekingdom.
"Just by listening to Roxy-sama, Ican tell it's a wonderful place. The food seems so delicious!"
"Fufufu, Fay always talks about foodfirst. Certainly, it's good to have an abundance, however… Thistime, there is a monster aiming for those crops. I'm returning tothe territory to subdue it."
"A monster? …They really do appeareverywhere."
I said this with raised brows whichmade Roxy-sama put her hand over her mouth, laughing.
"It's troublesome. Although if theyare defeated this time, then they won't come out until next year.After all, I'm a Holy Knight so something like this isn't aproblem."
"Just as expected. Uh… What monsteris it?"
Kobolt… If I remembered correctly, itwas a monster that looked like a dog walking on two legs. It shouldbe larger than me. Ranked higher than a goblin, I heard thatvanquishing it was impossible unless the warrior was powerful.
Besides, they had a strongconsciousness as a horde. When a companion was attacked, they calledfor reinforcements in a chain of howls. Moreover, they had a sharpsense of smell and could immediately find anyone hiding in thebushes. On top of this, they had a tenacious personality. For anopponent, they were a pretty troublesome monster.
As I pondered this, my stomachgrumbled. Guuu…
"Fay, what's wrong? Are you hungry?Although we just had just eaten."
Lately, my stomach had been growling infront of Roxy-sama a lot… I felt embarrassed. This was definitelydue to the Gluttony skill. Either way, I had only consumed goblinsouls all this time. It was about time that an urge to devour adifferent soul would appear. Smiling bitterly, I tried to cover itup.
"Sorry. Even though I ate that much…I'm hungry again."
"Fay really does eat well. I thinkthat's a good thing. We'll arrive at the territory soon, so justendure it for a little longer."
Saying this, Roxy-sama looked out thecarriage window. A vineyard extended all the way up to the mountain.Purple fruits hung from every tree. As the carriage continued on itsway, a large mansion came into view, one that was not at all inferiorto the size of the Heart Family's residence back at the RoyalCapital.