The hidden side to the Heart Family
Having returned tothe Royal Capital Seyfert, I headed to the Exchange Department inorder to receive prize money for the demons I had defeated. As aplace that many uncouth warriors visited, I occasionally heardviolent language. It seemed that they often disputed with thereceptionist about the exchange rates.
It would bebothersome if I were to be involved with those guys. I shrugged andsimply lined up in the queue. When the powerfully built man in frontof me turned around and saw me, he turned up his nose and sneered. Itseemed that he thought I was an underling of my party, based on myappearance, and did all the miscellaneous tasks. Right now, that wasconvenient for me.
Even if I presentedproof for a large kill count at the reception desk, they would simplythink, "Ahh, he's an underling running errands," and would notfind anything suspicious. So when they see my 38 goblin ears, theyshould not be surprised.
Oops, it was myturn. I lifted my hemp bag from the floor and placed it on thecounter. It was a small bag, so the goblin ears were spilling out.
"Let me check itfirst… Well, you sure collected a lot. Did you hunt with a bigparty?"
"Y-yeah, that'sright. We all worked hard together. Everyone was enthusiastic… Ithink."
I frantically talkedabout the nonexistent air party that I had imagined. I guess it wasfutile… to conjure up a story about an air party.
Crap. Thereceptionist look at me confused, as they were unable to hear Greed'svoice. That's right, I had suddenly said, "Shut up," out loudin the middle of our conversation. I had meant it for Greed, however,the receptionist must have thought it was directed at them.
"I'm sorry. It'snothing."
I gave a forcedsmile and somehow managed to escape ― I think.
Exiting the ExchangeDepartment, I sighed in relief. I learnt from my conversation withthe receptionist that most hunters only killed 10 of the same typeeach day. The reason for that was if they continuously hunted them,they will harbour and develop a resentment called Hate, and will makethe hunter an easier target for that species. Speaking of which,during my earlier hunt for goblins, they had been attacking me in thesecond half like I was their parent's enemy… I understood now.
From now on, it wasbetter to limit myself to 10 monsters when exchanging them forrewards, matching the other warriors. Let's give up on aiming formore than that. Besides, if I were to bring in large amounts of demonparts every time, people would find it strange. It was a shame,although this appeared to be the only way.
I looked inside thebag at the 3 silver and 80 copper coins. It had taken me the lastfive years to collect merely 2 silver coins, yet I had earned morethan that in only half a day.
"What have I beendoing for the past five years…"
As I became closerto a having normal and decent life, I could not help seeing just howdistorted my world used to be. Thinking of this, I felt my anger riseagainst Rafal and his siblings. I was even more incompetent thantrash, and had no right to be angry… or so they had told me.
Guuu… Justthinking about Rafal made my stomach growl in hunger despite havingbeen satisfied from all those goblins earlier. It sounded like itwanted to hurry up and eat them already. However, it was still earlyand besides, there was still the matter with Roxy. It would not be aproblem that affected only me anymore.
Now then, whatshould I do with this money? Oh that's right! Seeing my patched upclothes, I came up with a good idea on what to buy.
"Clothes make theman I see."
Our once dirtyappearance was now a clean and tidy one. I had used 2 silver coins atthe clothing store to buy some better, well-fitted clothes. Afterthat, I also purchased a sword sheath for Greed with 50 copper coins,paying an additional fee of 10 copper coins to clean up his grimystains.
This way, even if Ientered the section of the city where the Holy Knights lived, thegatekeepers would not suspect me. No matter how they looked at me, Iappeared just like a normal person now.
As I still had moneyleftover from my goblin hunt, I decided to splurge a little and treatmyself to a decent lunch. I headed towards the restaurant-linedboulevard. I could try one of the bars in the back alleys, however, Ifelt like it would be nice to try a different type of store once in awhile. This was the street that housed the most restaurants in all ofthe capital. It was a busy place with many people, and if I were tostand still, I would likely be swept away by the crowd.
Well, which shopshould I enter? Of course, if I was to eat, then I should eat meat.Just what would the taste of meat feel like after five years? Myexcitement rose simply from thinking about it and my mouth watered.At this, Greed called out to me through the <Mind-reading>skill.
"It's merelymeat, you sure do exaggerate."
"What are yousaying?! It's meat isn't it, meat!"
"Hmph, I am aweapon, and cannot understand the concept of appetite. Moreimportantly, I was dirtied from the battle so take care of meproperly. To me, this is as imperative as your meal."
"I know, I justused 10 copper coins to take care of that."
"If you ask me, Iwould be troubled if you could not even do that much by yourself."
That's true… IfI were to visit a blacksmith every time, my money will be spentquickly. Besides, if I hunted outside of the capital for a few dayswithout returning, I would have to maintain Greed by myself. Well,even if I called it maintenance, this blade did not have a singlechip in it so it was really just cleaning away the blood and oil.Though I thought it was fine to leave it as it was, Greed absolutelyhated it. He had voiced his opinion quite clearly through the<Mind-reading> skill.
Unlike otherweapons, Greed possessed a soul. That is, he had the mindset of ahuman being and would feel uncomfortable if he stayed unclean. ForGreed to have this sort of temperament, I wondered what emotions hadswirled within him during his time at the street stall, being treatedas a dirty, useless object. Although, with Greed's obstinance,there was no way he would tell me if I asked.
"I understand.Shall we go and buy tools for maintenance after lunch?"
"Oh, it seems likeFate has finally understood my importance. Care for me as you would aprecious gemstone."
"You really are anarrogant weapon."
"That I am, for Iam Greed-sama."
I felt like he wouldcomplain of still being dirty even after I polished him, just likethe boy who cried wolf. If he was too noisy, I would just have topour cold water from the well on him. It might help to quieten him alittle. For now let's just leave Greed's maintenance story atthis, and have lunch first since I was feeling hungry.
With perfect timing,an aroma of grilled meat wafted out of the store just ahead. It wasirresistible, so I headed over immediately. As I was trying to enterthe restaurant, I collided with a parent and his child. It was thefeeling of being caught off guard and pushed to the side. Falling andlanding on the ground, the bearded father yelled at me.
"Watch whereyou're going, filthy scum. Get out of my way!"
If you had notcrashed into me then obviously this would not have happened. Just asI was about to say this, the parent and child started to leave,ignoring me. The little girl who was being led away remained silent,her face downcast.
Feeling annoyed bytheir unreasonable attitudes, I reached out to the parent and childas they were walking away. At that moment, I came into contact withthe daughter's hand and the <Mind-reading> skill wasactivated.
(Help me… Anyone…Save me…)
Although I could nothear her properly in that fleeting moment, that girl was definitelyasking for help. Why?! I thought those two were a parent with hischild, are they not?
Looking closely, theman's face was not very similar to the girl's. Could it be thathe was kidnapping her?! For the time being, I should identify the manthrough <Appraisal>.
Kassim Black Lv15
Huh? There were noskills listed. Strange, this was impossible. Skills are a gift fromGod and everybody is born with one. Perhaps I had not read itclearly. I used the <Appraisal> skill again, but the resultswere the same. Just as I was pondering this, Greed's voice camethrough the <Mind-reading> skill.
"That man ishiding his skills with Concealment so it is invisible to yourAppraisal skill. Regardless, I can tell he is a warrior from hisstatus numbers so the problem is only his hidden skills. Well, whatwill you do now?"
"Even if you askme, I'm not sure."
Pulling the girl'shand forcefully, the man was trying to disappear into the crowd. Withsuch fragility and fear, she was unable to even speak out. Knowingthis, I could not overlook it.
"Haah~ Seems likefood will have to come later. Let's go after them."
"Oh, you'll saveher?"
"It can't behelped, I can't turn a blind eye."
"If that is Fate'sdecision then I have no complaints. But be careful, that man had amurderer's eyes. Don't sympathise enemies who never hesitate tokill."
I had already killedone person. Despite the fact that it was a villainous thief who hadinfiltrated the castle, it was not a good feeling to take someone'slife. I could never forget the way the thief had clutched at me as hedied. However, I did not regret it.
If I had let thatthief go, Roxy-sama would have been reprimanded by the other HolyKnights. I have heard that the Holy Knight's society was an intensebattle from birth, and really wanted to avoid having Roxy-samabanished from her career because of something like this. Hence, I wasglad that even trash like me could be useful to Roxy-sama, even if itinvolved staining my hands.
I had no intentionsto be a champion of justice, not that I had any chance of becomingone. Yet at the very least, I should help someone if they weresuffering right in front of my eyes. There was nothing more to itthan that. As such, I decided to keep track of the two whilemaintaining a safe distance.
After a while, theman stopped at the warehouses in the Commercial District. This waswhere the royal capital's imported merchandise was stored. The mantook the girl into a battered warehouse that appeared to beabandoned.
"Is that where theman lives?"
"Who knows. He mayintend to sell the girl to someone, or perhaps even assault her."
"Whichever it is,this is the worst. Let's hurry!"
Clutching Greed, Iapproached the warehouse quietly. There was not a single personaround. I stuck close to the old wall and peered inside a brokenwindow. The man put an iron collar on the girl and connected it to apillar with a rusty chain, as if she was a dog. There was no doubtabout this, she was being kidnapped. The girl seemed to be muted fromfear. The man laughed at her appearance.
"Threaten brats alittle and they immediately forget how to speak. This is such an easyjob."
As he said this, heslapped her cheek. The sound was fairly loud and reverberatedthroughout the warehouse.
"Orphans like you,who cares if you're alive or not. Either way, you're useless soyour parents abandoned you."
When she heard this,her complexion changed instantly.
"Ha, bullseye.Tell me what kind of crappy skill you have. Hm?! I can't hear you!"
The girl began tocry while facing the ground. Even then, she was too afraid to speak.She was a girl who had nothing… Just like I had been too long ago,despairing my lack of power yet still having to live in such a badsituation.
No, thecircumstances right now were worse. Forcibly abducted, who knows whatshe would be made to do. As I waited for an opening, suppressing theurge to rush out and save her, the man continued to speakheartlessly.
"Be glad, there isa place in the society where even rubbish like you can be useful.From now on, you can live as a Holy Knight's toy. Well, aren'tyou happy?"
Hearing this, thegirl shook her head as she cried. The man clicked his tongue andstruck her face again.
"Hey hey, you'renot very obedient. If you don't listen carefully, you'll bekilled in no time when you go over there. The other one didn't evenlast a week. It's good for me though, I can make money."
This time, he kickedthe girl's stomach. Unprepared for this, the girl fell and curledup on the ground. Unable to continue watching, I tried to pull Greedout of his sheath.
"Wait, Fate!Endure it a little longer."
Greed halted myactions through the <Mind-reading> skill. Tolerating more thanthis was impossible. If I let this go on, the girl's psyche couldsuffer irreparable damage. Nevertheless, Greed still told me stayput.
"Don't act uponemotions, you'll die. Your status is only slightly above youropponent's. However, he has far more battle experience. In thissense, you should understand."
"I get it… I'llcool my head."
Even if he had alower status, I could not win simply by swinging the swordemotionally. He's right. I calmed down and looked around thewarehouse. Even though it was an unused storage area, there werelarge piles of wooden boxes. If I made use of those blind spots,could I approach him?
Just as I wasthinking this, the man moved. After torturing her with more misery,he left the warehouse. Perhaps he had other tasks to do. This was myonly chance.
Quietly, I creptthrough the broken window into the warehouse and ran straight to thechained girl. She heard my footsteps and thought I was the man comingback already, and her body shook as she kept her face lowered.
First of all, let'sfree the girl by breaking the chain. I pulled out Greed from hissheath and aimed the tip at the iron links. Given how sharp the swordwas, it easily cut in half. Alright, first step was cleared. I thencalled out to the girl who was still shaking.
She raised her faceat my voice in surprise. After staring at me for a while, she seemedto understand that I was not an acquaintance of that man. With thatrealisation, she started to cry again… this time from relief. Itseemed like she was still in so much shock that she still could notform words.
"Come, let's getof here for now."
I tried to pull herup by her hand, however, her relieved face had changed completely.Why on earth was her expression fearful?
The girl was lookingpast my shoulder. Turning around, I found myself face to face withthe kidnapper.
Damn, I had beentricked. I understood that immediately. The man had known I wasfollowing him all along, and had intentionally left the warehouse.Laughing cruelly, he closed in on us
"Sometimes a foolwith a sense of justice will come after me. But if I kill you infront of the kid, then she'll learn to do everything I say. You'vesimply rushed to your doom."
As he said this, hepulled out a one-handed sword hanging from his waist and raised it.The pressure from that action alone was inexplicable. Was this due tothe difference in fighting experience that Greed had warned meagainst?
"What's this,are your knees wobbling? Hahahaha!"
Facing the man whowas inching closer, I grasped Greed and held my ground. Behind me wasa girl frozen in fear. At this rate, I would have to fight whiletrying to protect the girl. I could not afford to let the enemy haveany more advantages than this.
Yet, if I rushed inrecklessly, I would be sent to another world. Take your time, me.However, the enemy would not wait for me to make a decision. Greedspoke through the <Mind-reading> skill.
"Fate, take thegirl and go behind the piles of boxes."
I had seen them whenlooking in the window of the warehouse. The wooden crate piles lookedas though they was about to collapse. Plus, I could move to the exitfrom there. I pondered for a moment, then immediately figured outwhat Greed meant to do. As for the rest, I wondered if I could do itproperly… I would not know unless I tried.
From the kidnapper'ssword posture, I felt that his battle experience was shallow, plus hehad a low level. His pride though, let me use that well. For someonewho had been hurt by Rafal for five years, acting like trash was aseasy as breathing. Ahh, thinking about it made me feel empty, yet Ihad no choice.
"I will tell youthe timing. Come, let's start."
"Yeah, let's dothis."
While remembering mytime as a gatekeeper, I pulled the girl to the crate pile andconcentrated on finding a hiding place. Now then, come at me. The manshould be annoyed at my behaviour, thinking that I was a coward. Showme your scornful face.
"What, where didyour spirit go? What happened to your energy from when you weresaving that brat? Don't think I'll let you live for getting in myway. I will slice you apart bit by bit."
Using terror torestrain rebellion. This was the method that Rafal had often used.After all, the things this guy did were similar to him. It is exactlybecause of this that I knew I could trick this man. He woulddefinitely chase me.
"There's nowherefor you to go. Give up already!"
I hid further intothe box piles. The gap was narrow with no escape. How would thissituation look to him? His approaching footsteps were slow, an ironone-handed sword on the right. There was not an ounce of defeat inhis expression.
"There's noescape for you."
He stepped closerand closer, as if cornering a prey. It's about time ─ Iinstructed the girl to go as far back as possible. Greed then sent asignal through the <Mind-reading> skill.
I raised my blacksword over my head. Seeing this, the man smiled in amazement.
"Could it be, youintended to knock down this crate pile and bury me alive? But if youdo that, you and that brat will die too."
"I thought youwould say that."
Paying him no heed, I ran towards him. This was my only chance. If I failed, there would be no next time. Using the momentum, I swung my sword and took aim at the man, slashing downwards.
Alright, I did it!There was no place to escape, being surrounded by boxes. I wasprepared to risk my life with such a large scale attack. As expected,the man was unable to avoid my strike. That's right, even ironchains were easily broken by this black sword.
The man's swordflew away like a butterfly. As for my sword, it had stabbed straightinto his shoulder. With blood bursting out of the wound, he fellbackwards onto the dirty floor of the warehouse.
I crouched next tohis face, blood streaking from his mouth, and sought confirmation formy concern. It was about the Holy Knight who had tried to buy thegirl. I really wanted to know the name of the Holy Knight who wasdoing such a terrible thing.
"Answer me, whichHoly Knight requested this?"
Even on the verge ofdeath, the man remained stubbornly silent.
"Say it, who askedyou?!"
I twisted my blacksword in his injury and asked once more. The man's face distortedin pain, yet he still refused to tell. Tsk. Since it came down tothis, I had no choice but to use the <Mind-reading> skill. As Ireached out, the man could no longer endure the pain and uttered anabhorrent name.
Hado?! The secondson of the Breric Family! Doing terrible things on the surface, yetcommitting even worse crimes behind the scenes! I tried to ask howmany children had been poisoned by Hado, however, the man had losttoo much blood.
<Gluttony skillhas been activated>
<Status update:HP +920, Strength +900, MP +670, Spirit +500, Agility +950>
<Concealment,One-handed Sword Technique skills have been added>
Oh, he had theConcealment skill like Greed had said. I wonder if he used it to hidehis One-handed Sword Technique skill.
I used the<Appraisal> skill to examine them.
Concealment: Concealyour possessed skills from appraisals.
One-handed SwordTechnique: Increasing the attack power of the one-handed sword. Arts<Sharp Edge> can be used.
Concealment was asexpected. One-handed Sword Technique seemed to have a mystery purposecalled Arts. According to Greed, Technique skills always had apowerful function. To verify, I decided to appraise this.
…So it allows forthe user to perform a double counterattack. If I had used this Arts<Sharp-edge> earlier, it would have been bad. I might not bestanding here right now. In battles there were moments of luck, andthis time the winds had blown in my favour.
Well then, it wasdangerous to stay here any longer, since the dead man had been tryingto sell the girl to Hado. Right now, I could not let the BrericFamily find me. If they did, they would kill me instantly forabandoning my day job as a gatekeeper. As I still had a low status,there was no way I could fight them.
Bringing the girl, Irushed out of the warehouse. From there, I decided to head downtownwhere there were lots of people. It was safer to be in a crowdedplace for now. Looking up at the sky, I saw the sun beginning to set.At that moment, just as I remembered, my belly grumbled.
Except this was notdue to the Gluttony skill, given that I had just eaten the abductor'ssoul. My body was purely asking for food simply because I had noteaten lunch yet. Thinking of where to eat, I heard the sound ofanother smaller stomach grumbling. If I looked towards the person whohad made that sound, it would be the little girl with a red face. Nowthat she felt safe, she was probably hungry.
"Alright, let meget something for you." (TLN: Fate refers to himself as "nii-chan",aka "big brother", and the literal translation is "let bigbrother buy something to treat you to", but this way makes moresense in English. He also refers to himself this way when speaking toher in future dialogue.)
Her previousexpression changed completely, brightening up happily. Finally, shewas smiling. I had been worried that the kidnapping would have left adeep impact on her. However, that may have just been my overthinking.If she could make a face like this, I'm sure she would be fine. Nowthen, let's go eat meat as originally planned.
Since this wasdowntown, there were unlimited choices. As I smelled all thedelicious aromas, one in particular tickled my nose. It was beefstew. Even small children could eat this. It was decided, let's gohere.
Holding the littlegirl's hand, I opened the door to the restaurant. It seemed to bepopular, and there were many customers inside. Table seats…Unfortunately, they were all occupied. Then, counter seats… Oh,there were only two left. We sat down quickly before they were takentoo. Right then, a waiter brought over the menu.
"What would youlike? This is today's recommendation."
They said that thefish was good today, and so promoted dishes based on that. The personnext to me was eating one of them and it looked really delicious. Itwas not a bad choice… however,
"Two servings ofbeef stew and bread, please."
After all, myoriginal plan could not be swayed. Even the little girl was lookingforward to having beef stew, her eyes shining brightly. I could notbreak that expectation.
Was it still notready? As the girl and I grinned at each other while we waited, thebeef stew loaded with meat and fresh bread came over. It looks sogood!! I felt like drooling. The little girl sitting next to meseemed unable to bear it any longer and was already drooling.
"Could this beyour first time eating meat?"
She nodded as shewiped away her drool. Speaking of which, this orphan girl had beenabandoned by her parents because she had no skills. Even as agatekeeper, I could not afford meat. There was no way this orphancould have eaten meat at all.
The girl looked atme, wondering if it was alright for her to eat it. Having come allthis way, it was not possible to leave without eating. It was a gooddecision.
"Go ahead. You didwell today."
As I patted her backgently, she grabbed the spoon and started munching it down. In notime at all, she emptied her bowl of beef stew and bread. A fullstomach should relax her body and mind. With that, she began to cry.She was finally able to let her voice out. That was good. Deliciousfood really had power in making people happy. Every mouthful of thisbeef stew made me want to do even better tomorrow.
Time passed and thesky darkened. The girl was an orphan, so I asked her if she had aplace to go back to. It turned out she was from the tatteredorphanage in the slum where I lived. It was amazingly close!
"Since you knowthat, then let's go back together until halfway."
After leaving thestore, we walked from the Commercial District to the ResidentialDistrict. From here, we headed to the slums were the poor lived. Isent the girl to the orphanage first. Walking on an unmaintainedpath, I noticed that the surroundings were brightening. Ah, theclouds in the night sky had cleared away. On the path with no lights,the moonlight was beautiful and shone warmly.
"Come, theorphanage is close. Hm? What's wrong?"
The girl stoppedabruptly and fell silent. I had thought she was recovering prettywell, but then wondered if she had suddenly remembered the kidnappingincident. As I was being worried, the girl smiled.
"Thank you, bigbrother!"
This time it was myturn to stop and become quiet. This might have been the first timesomeone else has thanked me for something. Somehow, it wasembarrassing, but it did not feel bad. I guess even someone like mecould be a little useful, and I felt relieved. This was good once ina while.
I could see theorphanage. Oh, it seemed like the Sisters were searching around forsomeone. Perhaps it was this little girl. Then I should take her tothem.
"It's alrightnow. I can go home by myself from here."
"You don't needme to accompany you back?"
"Ahh, I know howto go back from here. I'll be fine."
My role had finishedlong ago. In a world where the weak had nothing, they could onlysurvive by their own power. Surely… If I ever forgot that, I wouldcease to exist.
The girl must havefelt better, enough to walk by herself. She reminded me of when Ileft my hometown village. As my father had passed away of illness,and I had lost my place in the village, there was only one path forme to take. It was a road that I could not see the end of, however, Ihad no choice but to walk it.
The Sisters foundthe girl and embraced her tearfully. Then, the girl made a face thatI had not seen before and she burst out crying. I guess she had notcried her fill yet. It was better to cry it all out now. If you leftit till tomorrow, it would be worse. I wished her all the best forthe future.
Then I left theplace before the Sisters spotted me. When I reached home, Greed spokethrough the <Mind-reading> skill.
"What's wrong?You expression looks uncharacteristic of your usual self."
"Shut up. There'sno such thing."
It was just that thememories of my childhood came flooding back when I saw the girl. Icould no longer return to my hometown where my parents' tombs werelaid. The village that had kicked me out for being a failure. Iwanted to visit their graves if it had been possible, yet the villagewould never let me in. I could not forget how my sick father held myhand as he died, worrying about my future. I wondered if deep down inhis heart, he ever believed that I could survive.
"The road aheadstill stretches far."
"Indeed. You havejust begun. I will tell you now, your journey ahead will be a longone."
"Well, first Ihave to get the job at Roxy-sama's place. I have to meet her fatherso I'm quite nervous."
"Hahahaha, whatuse is it to worry now? The meeting is at noon tomorrow is it not?"
"He is the head ofone of the five noble families in the royal city. From my level, he'son the clouds… even higher than that. You're lucky to have iteasy."
"Of course. For Iam a weapon."
Yes yes, I knew thatan inanimate object like Greed would not understand. It was not easyto rid myself of the fear I harboured for the Holy Knights since ithad been ingrained in me for years. Even though I learned that Icould strengthen myself with my Gluttony skill, that feeling did notchange. Given that it was Roxy-sama's father, I'm sure he wouldbe a good person. Still, I felt nervous to meet him face to face.
Whew, I'm tired. Ishould go to bed early today. Too many things had happened. In justone day, I went goblin hunting and defeated a kidnapping criminal. Ihad probably been having unnecessary thoughts because of fatigue. Ishould trust Roxy-sama more, and it was horrible of me not to dothat.
Opening the door tomy house, I plopped down on the straw bed. The exhaustion had worn meout and my consciousness quickly slipped away.
The next day, Islept until noon before waking up in a hurry. After readying myself,I immediately rushed to the entrance of the Holy Knight Districtwhere Roxy-sama was waiting. Unlike the other divisions, the HolyKnight District was surrounded by high walls, giving the illusion ofa castle. When I told the gatekeeper my name, I was instantly allowedin. It seemed like Roxy-sama had notified them in advance.
Since it wasnecessary to confirm the identity of visitors, two soldiers flankedme as we walked. It looked like I had committed a crime and was beingtaken away.
The house they wereguiding me to was none other than one of the five great houses in ourroyal capital. I could not believe my eyes as we approached themansion. It was massive, so large that it seemed almost silly. One ofthe soldiers entered the garden. After a while, a woman in a whitedress appeared. She was beautiful.
"You came. I'vebeen waiting."
From her voice, Irealised it was Roxy-sama. I had never seen her outside of our shiftchanges at the gatekeeping job, so I only knew of her appearance inher light, white armour. In a dress, she looked like a totallydifferent person. She really was beautiful.
After receivingconfirmation of my identity, the soldiers left us alone. I wasprobably staring at her with a stupid-looking expression and an openmouth.
Roxy-sama asked ina curious tone.
"It's just thatRoxy-sama looks too beautiful, so I… couldn't help but stare.Please excuse me."
At this, she blushedand coughed lightly.
"S-sometimes Iwear dresses too. You look different too. Now come, it's this way."
For such a largehousehold, it was very serene. Since there were no servants nearby,it was quite calming. I continued to follow Roxy-sama while lookingaround at the immaculate lawn. It was too quiet. All I could hear wasthe sound of the breeze passing through followed by a lonely silence.
Reaching the frontof the house, we took a turn to the right. Huh? We're not goinginside? Although I wanted to ask, the atmosphere did not feel right.As we went a little further on, I finally came to know the truenature of this feeling.
That was all I couldsay. Seeing this, Roxy-sama smiled gently then placed a hand on thecold tombstone.
"Father, I decidedto hire this person from today onwards. I hope by doing so, this willmake the Heart Family lively again."
While I was stillincapable of processing this situation, Roxy-sama turned to me.
"Five days ago, myfather died in Gallia, south from here."
For sure, it was acontinent known to be occupied by many monsters. It was said to haveincomparably strong demons around the capital there. The mostimportant role of a Holy Knight was to prevent the demons thatattempted to enter our city. For this reason, they had a high statusand were paid abundant salaries from the kingdom.
However, I honestlycould not imagine that a master from one of the five great familieswas defeated by a demon. As if reading my mind, Roxy-sama spoke.
"The cause ofdeath was not from a simple demon. In Gallia, there are otherissues."
That being said, Icould only come up with one other cause. Natural disasters such asflooding, earthquakes, tsunamis, and the like, were produced by thesebeings; living natural disasters ─ Heavenly Dragons. No matter theamount of power a person possessed, there was no way to fight them.Due to their forces, some people called them God's messengers, andthey have long been a subject of faith. If you were their target, youhad no choice except to prepare for death.
"It seemed that myfather's army had been wiped out. In the last few thousand years,this was the first record of a Heavenly Dragon coming out so far fromits nest."
The nest of theHeavenly Dragons was located in the heart of Gallia, and it was saidthat they only travelled as far as the Gallian borders. Yet thatbelief had been betrayed. It was pure fortune that the incident endedthere. For those who were left behind, it was a different story.
"I finally had abreak this morning. With my father's funeral proceedings, it hadbeen tremendously busy. As I inherited the household, I am officiallythe head of the Heart Family."
She was still ableto remain confident during this time, and I could only bow my head inrespect. I had not noticed at all. At our gatekeeper shift change,her face had held her usual expression, and I could not tell thatsuch things had happened behind the scenes.
In thesecircumstances, Roxy-sama still thought of me and called me here.Despite this, I had been thinking about my interview with her father,and wondering… how I could lie about my skills. Roxy-sama, I'msorry. For me to…
"Don't make thatkind of face, let's strengthen the Heart Family together. Could Iask that of you?"
That day, I became employed by theHeart Family.