The Black Demon King 495
Chapter 25: Days of Lies
What’s Inside That Tiny Chest (2)
“Reki’s been acting weird lately.”
I asked Sariel, who was in bed, if she had any idea.
“Yeah, like she’s avoiding me for some reason… And she seems to be in low spirits as well.”
Reki was usually full of energy, but had recently gone strangely quiet and even somewhat distant. Though I didn’t want to think that way, the most logical explanation I could find was that I had probably done something to make her dislike me.
“When did this start?”
“Hmm, yesterday? No, the day before yesterday.”
The day before yesterday was the 11th of the Ice Crystal Month. I remember this well because it was the day I noticed Ursula’s training with Original Magic had been really paying off. It was on that day that I could see how well she was able to control it after a single week.
And when we happily returned after our training session, Reki came out to greet us with a rather sad expression on her face.
I had almost asked her what was going on, but then I figured it could be one of those days, and she could have been having a hard time due to that, so I didn’t. But she was still like that even today, so I had started to become actually worried.
“I honestly have no idea what’s gotten into her. I don’t remember having done anything to cause Reki to hate me… Actually, I have been spending time with Ursula only, so I couldn’t even do anything to her.”
“…Maybe the cause for her sadness is precisely that you haven’t done anything with her?”
It might have been rude of me, but I didn’t expect much of Sariel’s answer, considering she’s basically a robot. But she still answered immediately.
“You think she’s in a bad mood because I haven’t set aside some time for her lately?”
“It’s a possibility.”
No way…? I mean, I’m not her big brother, nor her father. It shouldn’t be that hard for her to deal with me not being around for a while, right?
“Reki seems to be very much looking forward to a mock battle with you. If that doesn’t happen eventually, she’d logically be overwhelmed by stress by that expectation.”
“Ah, y-yeah… That’s right…”
Well, that makes a lot of sense. I know better than anyone just how much Reki is crazy about fighting.
So, no matter how much Reki understands the importance of controlling Ursula’s curse, having something she has been eagerly waiting for delayed for too long would eventually get her frustrated.
“Okay, then I’ll make sure to spend some quality time with her tomorrow. After all, it’s a holiday, and Ursula is going to take a day off.”
Tomorrow is the 14th of the Ice Crystal Month. Compared to Earth’s solar calendar, it would correspond to February 14, that is, Valentine’s Day. Though it wasn’t a day that actually meant too much for me back when I was just a regular high school student.
If I hadn’t been summoned to this alternate world, I might have even been given chocolate from Shirasaki-san… No, it’s no use to think about that now.
However, it would be unavoidable to be reminded about Valentine’s Day. Because in this alternate world, the 14th of the Ice Crystal Month had been designated by the Cross Church as a holiday after the legend of a saint.
And the name of that saint is Valentinus.
“It sounds like a total rip-off, don’t you think?”
“The Valentine’s Day of the Earth and the Valentinus Festival of the Cross Church are completely unrelated.”
Once again, I found myself asking Sariel a question. Then I brought it up a second time.
“But even then, did this Valentinus guy really have to die on a day that is the same as Earth’s February 14th? It has to be some kind of joke.”
Legend has it that Saint Valentinus was a great man who risked his own life to drive demons back and to restore the Cross Church under the right faith after it had been on the verge of succumbing to internal strife thanks to a ruse orchestrated by said demons. Of course, the holy scriptures also describe his many feats in all sorts of ventures, so I have a good idea of his story. Though that was mostly thanks to Sariel’s lectures.
Lectures I had to take, since I had work as a priest tomorrow talking about Saint Valentinus’ legend, reading excerpts from the holy scriptures aloud and explaining them. There were quite a bit of Cross Church believers in this village, so I had to know my stuff in order to sound believable enough. Otherwise, they’d soon realize that I’m not a real priest.
“Well, I don’t care about the Cross Church’s legends, but if there’s going to be a festival afterwards, that’s fine by me.”
I wasn’t the only one who thought like that, but many villagers, and even the majority of the people of the Republic of Sinclair. The holiday’s origin was relatively irrelevant, and what the people wanted the most was the festival itself, as an excuse to drink, eat, and dance to their hearts’ content.
“Are you looking forward to it?”
“I’ve been involved in the Valentinus Festival twice in the past. I’ve only been invited to attend ceremonies as a member of the church. There was nothing more to it than my job as an Apostle.”
“And what about now? Calling you two friends would be a bit of a stretch, but I can at least see that Ursula and you have been getting along well.”
“I don’t know. But I understand the theory that makes the festival fun.”
Well, I don’t think there’s any fun in understanding the theory behind it.
But was there really any other way for her? Although Sariel has regained all of Shirasaki-san’s memories, her personality is still like that of a robot. In fact, it would be quite scary if she started to behave like Shirasaki-san all of a sudden.
“Well, we should try to enjoy it a bit. After all, it’s the first and last time we’ll be able to attend this festival here.”
“So we’ll be leaving on the 20th of Ice Crystal Month?”
Like Sariel said, I had finally set a date to leave this 202nd colony.
It would seem that the snow would start to melt at the usual time of the year. In the past week I’ve been training Ursula, I’d started to notice that the temperature has begun to rise sharply throughout the day.
At this rate, we should be able to see the surface of the muddy dirt road coming out of the village after the 20th.
The plan was to leave this 202nd colony on the 20th. It would take us a few days to reach the village just ahead of the Alsace Fortress, and we’ll survey the situation there for a while. Then, the snow would have almost completely melted by the time we started climbing the Galahad Mountains.
The withdrawal of the Crusader troops from the Alsace Fortress has already settled down quite a bit as well. There would be a few occasional messengers on contact duty, or the rare small unit that had gotten the short end of the stick and ended up being sent to defend Alsace Fortress.
Then, as we move, we would buy equipment from merchants to make us look like adventurers or mercenaries so we don’t look suspicious, as well as supplies needed for our ascent across the Galahad Mountains.
Unfortunately, I do not have access yet to my Dimension Magic, so I would be carrying a lot of luggage on my back. But it’s not uncommon for travelers and adventurers of this world to move around with a lot of gear on them, so it won’t make us stand out that much.
We’re ready. And the time has come.
All we have to mentally prepare ourselves and take the first steps.
“Ah, I’m sorry… But we’ll be leaving this village as planned.”
“Reki, I have something important to talk to you about.”
Right after we went to bed, Ur called me with a serious look on her face.
“W-What is it…?”
Don’t tell me she’s noticed that I’ve been acting weird these past few days…
That day, I started crying as I headed back from looking at Ur and Priest Kuroe’s training… I was feeling completely uncomfortable. I couldn’t calm down at all.
Then Sister Yuuri saw me crying as I walked into the church, but she didn’t ask me anything about it, nor did she say a single word to anyone. So I might just be able to avoid drawing their attention for a while longer.
Though I know I can’t hide my emotions very well, so they’ll soon notice something’s bothering me.
I know Ur will eventually find someone to settle in with. But it can’t be Priest Kuroe… I can’t even look him straight in the eye anymore… I don’t really understand why I feel so embarrassed.
“It’s about Priest Kuroe.”
I messed up and raised my voice. Ur’s suspecting eyes hurt to watch.
“Did anything happen between you and Priest Kuroe?”
“N-Nothing happened! After all, hasn’t Priest Kuroe been spending all day with you these days?”
That seemed to have been enough for her, since she didn’t pursue the matter any further.
Wait, does it mean that what Ur wanted to talk to me about wasn’t really about me?
“You know that Priest Kuroe will leave the village in the near future, right?”
I learned that the very day Priest Kuroe first arrived here. He wasn’t going to stay here to replace the previous priest for too long.
“Priest Kuroe is planning to leave later this month.”
“What? So soon!?”
“Keep your voice down, Reki.”
Ur asked me to watch my voice, but I couldn’t help it. He’s leaving so soon…
“I-Is this true? Really?”
“Priest Kuroe has already got everything ready for his departure. Once the snow begins to melt, he will have no reason to stay in this village anymore.”
I know that the only reason he was staying during the winter was because it’s hard to travel on snowy roads. And I’ve also heard that this area begins to thaw during the Ice Crystal Month.
“Thinking that Priest Kuroe won’t be around makes you feel sad, doesn’t it?”
“O… Of course…”
Oh no… I’m already in tears.
I should’ve known from the beginning that there would come a time that I’d have to say goodbye to him. I should’ve made up my mind that there was nothing I could do to stop that.
“I’ll be sad as well. I’d like for him to stay with us for a long time.”
“But that’s… impossible…”
“No, it’s not impossible. I’ve come up with an idea, Reki.”
Despite how dark it was in here, it felt like Ur’s blue eyes were full of light.
“Eeeh? What is it? Tell me!”
I was getting excited. If there was the slightest possibility to convince him to stay with us, no matter how ridiculous it was, I would like to put all my money on the table. I suppose I was grasping at straws at this point.
“Can you help me with it?”
“Of course! Reki will do whatever she can!”
After I spilled out my innermost feelings so frankly, I could see Ur’s smile– or was it a grin?- very clearly, even through the surrounding darkness.
Ur is much smarter than me, so her plan will definitely succeed, whatever it is. She had outsmarted the late Priest Nikolai several times in the past.
“So, what are we going to do?”
“We’re going to ‘rope him in’ so to speak.”
“Rope him in…? We’re gonna tie him up?”
She couldn’t have really meant that, could she? Ur likes to say things in fancy ways, so I usually have a hard time getting what she means.
“No, I mean, to seduce him. To do naughty things.”
“S-Seduce him? N-N–N-Naughty thiiiiiiiiings!?”
“Shh, keep your voice down!”
Ur asked me to keep quiet once again, but how else did she expect me to react to that?
After all, doing naughty things means to kiss, and… to undress… and in front of Priest Kuroe…
When the image came to my mind, my heart started to race.
I won’t be able to sleep tonight without holding Ur’s hand. I can’t be holding hands with her all the time, since I’m weaker than her, and the power of her curse would get me a little exhausted as well. But when I get this excited, my eyes would become very big and I wouldn’t be able to sleep, so when this happens, I hold Ur’s hand to try to calm down and help me sleep.
But now, I have to calm down without Ur’s help. I had to calm down and talk about these naughty things. Keep calm…
“B-But… Do you think it’ll work?”
“Don’t worry, I’ve read all about it in a book.”
Oh yeah, the romance novel that Priest Kuroe bought for me! Wow, Ur, you’re so smart!
“This book has detailed instructions on what to do and how to do it. There’s no way it could go wrong if we follow these to a T.”
“S-S-So… W-W-What d-d-do we have to do!?”
“It’s easy. According to the book, the woman goes to bed together with the man at night.”
“Eh? T-That’s it?”
Isn’t that the same as we are now?
“But we go straight to sleep. Once in bed, the woman should hug him.”
“Hug him? L-L-Like, r-real close?”
“Yes, that’s it.”
Oh no, I can feel my cheeks getting hotter.
“Then she should kiss him.”
“Whoa! A k-k-k-kiss!?”
This is definitely naughty.
“Yes, kiss him many times.”
“Oh my god!”
Me? Doing those adult things? With Priest Kuroe? My head’s about to burst…
“Then, after that, the woman and the man will feel really good and then they’ll fall asleep peacefully in each other’s arms. Then, before they realize it, it’ll be already morning.”
“S-So t-that… That’s how you actually do naughty things!”
“But the most important thing starts after that. After doing naughty things with a man, the man is expected to take responsibility and… marry the woman.
Even Ur had a hard time finishing that sentence. She too must have been thrilled by the thought.
“If we do that… Priest Kuroe would have to stay here forever… With us. He’ll never leave…”
Well, with Priest Kuroe married, things would certainly be like Ur says. He would give up on his idea of leaving, and will have to stay in this village and live with us.
Instead of having him for just a moment, he would stay here for the rest of his life. It’s hard to believe, but it’s like a dream… a story that I really want to believe.
“B-But… After all, it is impossible…”
“Because Priest Kuroe already has Sister Yuuri.”
It was none other than Ur who told me that Sister Yuuri and Priest Kuroe are not really related, despite the fact that they pretend to be siblings. And her love for him is so clear, so transparent, I can’t believe Ur would forget about that tiny little detail…
“That’s when you come in, Reki.”
“Can Reki do something about that?”
“I’d like to get Sister Yuuri away from Priest Kuroe at night…”
According to Ur, tomorrow is the Valentinus Festival. A festival where it’s not weird for unusual things to happen. And that’s why tomorrow will be our one and only shot at “roping Priest Kuroe in”.
“When the sun starts to go down, I need you to start drinking, Reki.”
There’s going to be a lot of wine and ale at the festival, so everyone is going to drink a lot more than usual. Everywhere you look, there will be people drinking to their hearts’ content.
Therefore, it won’t be unusual for a child like me, who shouldn’t be drinking alcohol, to be drinking with everyone else in the spirit of the festival.
Then I’d have to drink enough to get drunk. Awfully drunk. And even if I don’t get drunk, I would pretend to be very drunk. I’ll most likely drink only a little bit, so chances are I’m probably going to have to pretend.
The idea is to be so “drunk” that I’d ask Sister Yuuri to help me get back to the church. According to Ur, Priest Kuroe has an image to keep, so it’s unlikely that he’ll offer to take a conspicuously drunk child like me back to the church.
And even if Priest Kuroe ends up bringing my drunk self and Sister Yuuri back to my room, the plan is to have Sister Yuuri stay with me. And then Priest Kuroe would leave, because he’d know how embarrassing it would be for me to have him look at me sleeping in that condition. I don’t know what’s so embarrassing about that, but Ur says so, so I’ll believe her.
Then, at the right time, while I lay alone with Sister Yuuri, I’d ask her to stay and sleep with me.
By keeping Sister Yuuri in the same bed as me until morning, Priest Kuroe would have to sleep by himself.
It was only after I finished hearing Ur’s plan that I realized.
“T-Then, what are you going to do, Ur…?”
“I’m going to be the one doing naughty things with Priest Kuroe.”
After I blurted that out, I immediately regretted it.
“Well, that’s because…”
I can’t answer. I can’t think of a proper answer as to why she can’t do that. I had to convince her somehow…
“I-If you do that, then Ur and Priest Kuroe will have to m-marry! You’ll have no other choice! You should get married to someone you like!”
“But I like Priest Kuroe.”
She said that so nonchalantly that I couldn’t find the words to say anything back at her.
“Priest Kuroe is very strong, cool and kind. What’s so wrong about me falling for someone like him?”
But love… shouldn’t be for such mundane reasons.
“And only Priest Kuroe accepts all of me for who I am.”
I had to push the words of denial that rapidly climbed up my throat all the way back to the depths of my lungs.
Yeah, that’s right, Ur. That’s certainly more than enough reason to love someone, to love them enough to want to marry them.
“Ur, are you… Are you sure about this?”
“I’m dead serious. I’ll definitely get Priest Kuroe to marry me. So, Reki, please… Help me.”
At that time, all I could do was nod in agreement.
Oh, but why… Why does my chest hurt so much…?