Saturday, February 25, 2023 @

Chapter 208 Dinner

 After meeting with the Duke Alterio and explaining all the details, I went back to the hotel.
 On the way to the hotel, Monica, who was following me, was silent. She did not say a word.
 She must be thinking about what happened to her brother. I also did not speak to her, and we walked in silence.
 When I entered the rented room, I found my friends already there.
 "Welcome back, desu~no! Goshujin-sama!"
 Urza is the first to come running to me.
 She hugged my waist and pressed her sharp horns against me.
 "I was worried when you came home late!"
 "...Well, I've been talking to the Duke. Now, get away from me."
 I grabbed Urza's head and pulled her off, and Aeris came close at the same time.
 "Welcome back, may I have your jacket?"
 "Yes, I'm sorry."
 She takes off my jacket and hangs it in the closet in the room, just like a new wife welcoming her husband. As a matter of course, she was looking like a full-fledged wife.
 "Just the right time. My Lord. The room service just arrived. I know we have a lot to talk about but why don't we sit down and eat first?"
 Nagisa, who is sitting on the sofa, says to me.
 A table in the center of the room is set with a variety of dishes. This is the cuisine of a luxury hotel. I thought I wouldn't be able to expect much from room service, but the food looks delicious.
 The savory smell tickled my nose, and my stomach rumbled with hunger.
 "I was just getting hungry. Well, the timing is certainly good."
 "Monica too, please sit down. You can't fight with an empty stomach... If you don't eat first, nothing good or bad will come of it, will it?
 Monica gave a small nod and sat down on one of the couches.
 "Come on, everyone, let's eat! Zenon-sama asked for a glass of wine. I know it's too early for you, Monica, but today is a special occasion. You can drink light fruit wine if you like!"
 "...Yes, thank you."
 It was a relief to know that in this world, at least, there was no age limit for drinking.
 So, now, as we settled into our seats, Aeris expertly prepared drinks for the group.
 Despite the weight of their recent struggles, Aeris' voice was light and cheerful, as if she were trying to lift the mood.
 Monica, sitting across from her, managed a small smile in response to Aeris' efforts.
 Thus, for a while we forget about the gloomy situation and enjoy the meal.
 We also start to eat the large amount of food laid out as if we were at a party.
 We are hungry from all the battle in the dungeon. Satisfaction fills the hunger that portable rations could never satisfy.
 After feasting on the fine hotel cuisine and consuming just the right amount of booze... the party is just about to end when I finally get down to business.
 "Well... then, let's talk about our future plans."
 Normally, this would have been the first thing to discuss, but I had been putting it off out of concern for Monica.
 Maybe it would be better to wait longer, but I couldn't end the day without making a decision.
 Then, as I down the contents of my wine glass in one gulp, I look at all the faces in the room in turn.
 "First of all, let's confirm. I don't have to ask you this but you all didn't find Leon, did you?"
 Monica gasped, her body shaking slightly.
 Still, she looked much better than when I had talked with the Duke Alterio. It seemed that the light booze she had given her was worth it.
 "Yes, the adventurers and I have searched for him, but there are no traces of him in the neighboring forests. However... the hunter saw a strange creature flying southwest. Perhaps it was Brave."
 "Southwest... let's hope it's caught in the net somewhere."
 Duke Alterio had already sent a letter to the neighboring lords, warning them to be on the alert.
 They are supposed to contact me if they find the monstrous Leon, so we will have to wait for any sightings.
 "We'll have to widen the search as much as possible, using Marquis Baskerville's people as well. That's the best we can do right now."
 These are the words I want Monica to hear.
 I should make sure that she does not go out of her way and search for Leon on her own.
 "The fact that there have been few sightings means that he has not attacked anyone. Aside from the magic he shot at us, he flew away without attacking anyone in this town... maybe he still has some human heart left in him."
 "...Yes. He's Leon-oniichan, after all. He won't be swallowed up easily even if he becomes a monster. I believe in him."
 Monica affirmed in a small but firm tone of voice.
 She is feeling much better. There is no need for further concern.
 Speaking of caring there must have been someone else in shock besides Monica.
 "Aeris, what about her? Was Uranus still in shock?"
 Leon's childhood friend. Ciel Uranus, one of the three heroines.
 She was shocked to the point of fainting when she saw Leon transformed into a monster.
 She was taken to the hospital with the injured... but has she been all right since then?
 "...Uranus-san has regained consciousness. However, I don't think I can nod my head when asked if she is okay. She was trying to go after Brave-san, but Melia-san and Ruffie-san were trying hard to stop her."
 It seems that Ciel is more mentally unbalanced than the others.
 "On the other hand, Sue (Melia) and Astoglow are fine. Well, maybe it's because they've only known each other for a short time..."
 "Still, they seemed to be shocked too. Though it doesn't seem to be as bad as Uranus-san..."
 "It's one thing to be shocked... but I hope they don't do anything unnecessary. If they stir things up too much, it'll be more trouble than it's worth."
 "Well... I hope they don't do anything reckless."
 Aeris's face clouded with worry.
 We are worried about Leon's party, but we have to think about what we are going to do now.
 "For now... let's go back to the capital tomorrow. We need to meet the king at the palace to make a report."
 "Excuse me, Zenon-niisan, may I have a word?"
 "Yes, Monica?"
 Monica raises her hand as if she's having trouble saying something.
 All eyes focused on Monica.
 "P-please take me to the capital too! I want to find Leon-oniichan!"
 Monica asked in a firm tone of voice.

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