Hikaru made it out of the forest. Beyond the plains he saw the town of Borderzard. Smoke rose high above, but he could hear no screams, an indication that the battle was most likely over. The way back was much easier. After all he didn’t have to worry about any Earth Dragon anymore. Plus he was familiar with the path now too.
「I gained a rank as well.」
Just one rank, though.
「I think things went great overall. I got an excellent loot and I was able to test the new bullets. But man, I’m starving.」
He only munched on a bit of food this morning. He wanted to get back as quickly as possible.
「I hope I can have lunch with Lavia. I want some of her tea too.」
Hikaru hurried back to Borderzard.
The black-haired girl stood firmly, arms folded. Watching her with a wry smile was a beautiful lady — somewhere between a girl and a woman — with blonde hair pulled up in a chignon. Selyse Lande still had her silver breastplate and protector on in case of a monster invasion.
「Quit sulking, Selica. You’re ruining your pretty face.」
「But I can’t find her anywhere!」
「Yeah!」she said with an attitude, but Selyse simply watched her with a smile.
Selyse was only two years older than Selica, but she sometimes acted more like a mother than an older sister. Sophie and Sarah weren’t around, so right now they were working together.
「I’ve been looking so hard for her!」
Selica strolled through town while constantly looking around as though she was on patrol. She was searching for the incredible mage who fired a high-level fire spell — Flame Gospel — in succession from on top of the mud wall. By the time the fight settled down, the mage had disappeared. Selica searched every nook and cranny and even asked the guild for any information, but they had nothing.
「The situation is still messy. It’ll be difficult to find her.」Selyse said.
Borderzard was in a state of chaos; the injured were being transferred, citizens rushed back after evacuating, crowding the streets, reports of burglars flew about.
「But I had my eyes on her!」
「It’s probably her cloak. A Mage that powerful would want to hide their identity for their own safety.」
「If that Mage is an adventurer, I’m sure they’ll collect their reward!」
「What if they’re not an adventurer?」
Selica pursed her lips. Selyse stroked her head, but Selica brushed the hand away.
「Are you saying a powerful Mage like that is just lurking in Forestia?」Selica asked.
「I don’t know. We have little information about foreign countries.」
「The guild staff said he didn’t know them. Is that even possible? Staff from all three countries are gathered here, but not one of them were aware of this person. Even if we assume they’re a noble, there would still be some info on them. It feels like if I let them go now, I won’t see them ever again. And I just can’t shake this feeling that I need to meet them.」
「“Feels” this “feelings” that…」
「My hunch is always right, okay?!」
「So you say, but you sure get lost a lot.」
「I’m just not very good with directions!」
They were walking around town when they heard an adventurer raise their voice.
「It’s the Four Stars of the East!」
「Thank you so much for your help! I’m so lucky to have fought alongside you!」
The ruckus drew the attention of the townspeople.
「Our combined efforts brought us victory.」Selyse said with a smile. She was used to dealing with these types of adventurers, but something was different this time.
「That huge fireball was your doing, right?!」
「Man, that was so cool! Great Flame is a fitting name!」
「No, you idiot. Um…」
Apparently they thought Selica was the Mage who cast those powerful spells.
「It wasn’t me who cast that fireball!」Selica protested.
「I know. Since Selyse is called Sun Maiden, I suppose you’re more of a “Young Star”.」
「You’re not listening!」
Selica tried to deny it, but the adventurers didn’t pay her any heed. Soon enough other adventurers arrived as well.
「You moron!」a smart-looking adventurer interjected.「”Solaris” sounds much cooler.」
「Solaris! The Solaris Mage!」
「Solaris of the Four Stars of the East!」
The misunderstanding spread.
「I’m trying to tell you that it wasn’t me!」Selica exclaimed.
「What? It’s not?」
One person finally realized they made a mistake.
「But still that magic was amazing!」
Or not, apparently.
People’s chants surrounded the ladies.
「Like I said…!」
「I suggest you give up, Selica. Anyway, let’s get away from here for now.」Selyse wore a stiff expression on her face.
Selica gave up on trying to correct the people. She thought it would all die down sooner or later anyway. Selyse pulled her away from the adventurers.
The people were still in an uproar, not even noticing the ladies were gone. The joy of their success in defending the town still remained within them, most likely.
「Did you feel it?」Selyse asked.
「I did. A gaze as filthy as sewer water.」
While they were surrounded by adventurers, they noticed someone was watching them. They didn’t who it was. The person disappeared, but the revolting sensation remained.
Ever since they formed their party, they got more and more sensitive of people’s gazes. The four ladies always stood out. They could feel the emotions through the people’s eyes — curiosity, envy, lust, and many others.
「It’s not often we sense such a disgusting stare.」Selica said.
Selyse nodded in agreement.「If only one of our members who’s good at investigating was here…」
「Well speak of the devil!」Selica pointed at a figure weaving through the crowd.
「I’m back.」Sarah said, her face grim.
「What’s the matter? Why do you look like that?!」
「Yeah. What happened? Wait, is the dragon coming?」
Selica and Selyse were on guard quick.
Sarah waved her hands.「No, that’s not it. Sorry. The monster’s dead, so don’t worry about that. But there’s something I need to check.」
「Yeah. There’s a huge chance some rather vile scoundrel slipped into town. It would be awful to have someone like that around the next time we have to fight monsters. Can you look for them?」
「Ah, uhh… Hmm? Who… are you?」Paula asked, confused.
「Oops.」Lavia muttered, covering her mouth with her hand.「Does “Hikaru’s partner” ring a bell?」
「Huh… Wait, what?! Hold on a second…」
Paula’s eyes spun and focused back to one point.
「I-I get it now!」
「You’re crossdressing right now! My, you’re beyond redemption…! But that’s okay!」
Paula let out a strange-sounding giggle. Lavia froze. Apparently she thought Lavia was originally a boy. After some explaining, she was finally convinced that Lavia was, in fact, a girl.
「I see…」Paula looked extremely disappointed.
You’re the one who’s beyond redemption, Lavia thought.
「Now it’s your turn to tell me about yourself. What did Hikaru do?」
「I can’t tell you. Hikaru-sama said not to tell anyone.」
Lavia nodded. Looks like we’re good. She won’t leak secrets that easily. I’m guessing Hikaru used the Soul Board to boost her stats.
「All right, then. I’ll change the question. Did Hikaru tell you to leave your friends? I believe I have a right to know. After all, me and Hikaru are living together.」
「What?!」Paula’s eyes widened.「Uh… yes, h-he did.」
「Did he say he was going to take you along with him?」
「Yes. He told me to devote the rest of my life to him.」
Yikes. That sounds like something he’d say, all right. He decided he can’t let someone, who suddenly became powerful through bizarre means, just running around unchecked.
「But you did something that drew people’s attention. I’m guessing that’s why the guild staff is looking for you.」
「Here, wear this.」
Lavia took off her cloak and switched it with Paula’s. Her cloak was specially made with materials from a Camouflage Dragon. By wearing it, one gained the Stealth buff. Lavia could just use her own Stealth.
「Let’s move somewhere quiet for the time being and wait for Hikaru.」Lavia said.
「Oh damn, I was right!」A man’s voice came from out of nowhere.「Found the Count’s daughter!」