King Elbano sat back in a relaxed manner while silently tapping his fingers on the armrest in rhythm.
Ultimea, the empire of the Lyark Technista faction emerged near Eldenbaum, the mecca for the Elf tribe that has been occupied by unknown beings. In order to find out about it, a few days ago King Elbano requested the adventurer that came to this city, El Scaro, as well as Pelulu, the merchant lady of the Cule tribe that tagged along, to investigate it, thus sending them out to Ultimea.
Later, the news about the occurrence of unusual phenomenon near the ‘Road to Darkness’from the elder of the Lunite Village that lives in Calle Mort reached King Elbano. Assuming that the adventurers might have got caught up in the trouble as Calle Mort is situated midway between El Scaro and Ultimea, soldiers were dispatched to look for them. However, no matter how many days passed, their safety remained completely unknown. While the documents on the desk right before him continued to pile up.
The rhythmic finger tapping finally stopped and as the king raised his eyes and stared in the direction of Calle Mort, the sound of someone running and approaching from the corridor became audible. It was one of the soldiers sent out for rescue that came rushing in. The king jumped to his feet and despite nearly falling forward, he exclaimed, “Ooh, you’re back! Where are the adventurers?! Are they all right?”
The soldier got down on his knees after quickly fixing his attire and replied, “I... I have looked all over Lunagent Mountain and even found some traces of intense battle near the summit. However, the adventurer and Pelulu were nowhere to be found...” Hearing that sat the king back down.
“Hmm... traces of battle, perhaps, the adventurer left them, but... whom did the adventurer actually fight and were they all right...”
King Elbano sat back and as he was about to close his eyes, he saw something bothering on the edge of his vision. He then rose back and asked the soldier.
“What’s that dirty lump beside you?”
The soldier seemed surprised as he looked next to him, was a lump of tattered cloth. He picked it up with his thumb and index finger and said,
“Ooh, this fellow seemed to have got lost at the summit, so I helped her. She might have lost sight of her parents and she kept crying back then. She was in a really bad state...”
The thing that the soldier picked up was not a lump of tattered cloth, but a tiny figure. The dirty clothes that are badly torn here and there seemed familiar. However, her face... with her swollen eyelids and extremely sunken cheeks showed that she had lost so much weight that she was nothing but skin and bones. King Elbano took a careful look at that face and asked in doubt.
“Are you... Pelulu?”
Hearing that helpless response, the soldier that was grabbing her by the collar was astounded and took a look at her face.
“Oh my? Miss Pelulu? I-I’m so sorry!!”
He carefully put her down at once. Looking at Pelulu who was facing down while unsteadily standing on her feet, the king went on with his question.
“What happened exactly? Where’s the adventurer that was with you?”
As soon as Pelulu heard that, her dry and puffy eyes got watery. She plopped down in W position and replied,
“He’s dead... A monster I’ve never seen before...”
She stopped right there and started sobbing. Both King Elbano and the soldier were left completely gobsmacked.
The king then gestured the soldier to step back and let her be for the time being and decided to wait until she stopped crying...
A few hours later, a neat and pretty Pelulu stood before the king. Even after getting changed and having plenty of food and water, she was still not 100% who she used to be. While sympathizing with her, the king pried the unbelievable incident that took place in Lunagent Mountain out of her and somehow tried to comprehend.
“Hmm... so the adventurer was seriously wounded and knocked down by a monster?”
While sitting with her knees hugged, she murmured,
“Yeah... then as the monster was about to crush him, an arrow of light came flying out of nowhere... at first, I thought the arrow would only impale it, but it also sent the monster flying and it fell beyond the wall...”
Hearing that, King Elbano lowered his head and while stroking his chin with his right hand, he said,
“Hmm, impaling the monster with an arrow of light in a single shot... it’s not something humans can possibly do, but who did it... well, anyhow the monster was gone after that, so was the adventurer breathing when you ran up to him...?”
Pelulu who already looked small as she was curling up in a ball, became even smaller possibly after recalling what happened that day. She then answered, “I dunno... no matter how many times I called, didn’t move at all... I was at loss for what to do and I started crying, but then suddenly the body began to glow...”
“What?” reacted the king as he turned and looked at Pelulu after listening to her story that was far from reality.
While keeping her stance, Pelulu continued her talk. “Then he floated in the air and his body suddenly glowed so bright and just vanished into thin air...”
Once again the king lowered his head and as he stroked his chin with his right hand, he recalled the narrative about miracles written in the document he read long time ago. There will be light when a miracle happens, and most of the light is the proof of the great god’s protection. Being wrapped up in light and disappeared, doesn’t that mean he’s now under the protection of god? It’s true that the adventurer was badly injured, but it may be too soon to think that he’s dead... As the king was about to tell Pelulu what he was thinking, he suddenly changed his mind. The light of the great god’s protection is nothing more than a story in the ancient document. It doesn’t prove anything that the adventurer is still alive. While having the urge to console and comfort Pelulu who was swaying her curled up little body left and right, King Elbano constrained himself from giving her false hope that may let her down...
“Pelulu, why don’t you go get some air? If you just stay like that, you’ll get moldy, you know?” said King Elbano to Pelulu who was lying down in the corner of the room.
It had been a few days since she returned to El Scaro, but she still looked as if she had lost her spirit. She just lay there doing nothing and would not move an inch.
“I know you had gone through a series of foolhardy adventures with the adventurer that you barely had time to breathe, and now that everything ended so suddenly, telling you to get through it is sort of silly, but you can’t stay like this forever. You need to find ways to jazz up your life...”
When the king said that, a sentry presented himself before the king in the hall and went on his knees.
“Your Majesty, a city resident called Filecia has come to earnestly request for your help. What shall I do with her?”
“Trivial matters shall be settled by the sentries. I’m positive all of the city residents are aware of that, yet she wants my help. It bothers me... Well, bring her in.”
The sentry bowed once, left the hall and came back with a woman after a while. She was plain, but her clothes that are made of high-grade fabric and her silver ringlets indicated proper upbringing. Furthermore, her spectacles gave the impression that she is an intelligent woman of the Elf tribe.
“Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Filecia, a city resident from the Aruna family...,” said the woman after bowing once to the king as soon as she entered the hall.
“Your Majesty, I wish you continued good health and much happiness. I understand it is too presumptuous of me to trouble you with my request...”
“No problem. What’s going on? Just say it.”
Believing she should just get to the point of her story, the king cut off the formal introductory remarks. Realizing that, Filecia continued right away. “Gladly, Your Majesty. As a matter of fact, inexplicable phenomena have been taking place around me lately... Bizarre things such as the furniture that moved by itself or the mansion residents that suffered from sudden loss of consciousness keep happening. Therefore, as the leading expert on not only various laws, but also magic and sorcery, I have come to rely on you, King Elbano.”
The king then said, “I see. Now I got it. However, even if I want to, I can’t set up a plan without conducting a thorough investigation on the mysterious phenomena... I’ve got official duties to perform and that somehow makes it difficult for me to conduct the investigation in person...”
The king began to think while stroking his chin with his right hand. Then suddenly, he elevated his head. Reflected in his eyes was Pelulu who was daydreaming in the corner of the hall. He quickly got his hand off his chin, strode towards her, bent down and took a peek into her face.
“Pelulu, oh, Pelulu! Sorry, but can I count on you?!”
“H-hah? W-what happened?” reacted Pelulu who did not expect the king’s loud voice in surprise and while lifting her head.
The king looked further into her face and said, “I want you to go to Filecia’s house now to find out about the mysterious phenomena that have been happening. If possible, I want you to solve them because anyway, you’re the one that made it out alive from numerous adventures with the adventurer until recently!”
Pelulu grimaced slightly as she heard the word ‘adventurer’.
“How many times do I have to tell you... you’re overestimating me. The adventurer did everything. I didn’t do anything... Besides, I’m still not in the mood to do anything...”
That was all she said and then she sprawled on the floor. That sight brought a smile to the king’s face. He stood up and turned to look at Filecia.
“Filecia, you’re from the Aruna family, aren’t you? It’s probably not very appropriate to ask, but I heard the noble families are losing their assets recently. Does it happen to your family too?”
Filecia seemed baffled for a second, but as soon as she saw Pelulu pricking up her ears, she grinned.
“Thank you for your concern. But we have a manor and we are selling the vegetables harvested within the manor, so our assets are actually growing, although just a little. Once the mystery of the phenomena is solved, please allow me to prepare an adequate reward for troubling you.”
After assuring himself that Pelulu heard what Filecia said, King Elbano talked to Pelulu once again.
“Pelulu. Let me ask you once again. I need you to investigate the mysterious phenomena in Filecia’s house...”
Just as the king finished his words, Pelulu instantly got up slowly and while pretending to brush off her dustless body, she gently opened her mouth.
“Your Majesty, you have been very kind to me for letting me stay here. I have to say yes. I’ll investigate it. But as you know, I’m just a good-for-nothing that have always been following the adventurer around.”
The king nodded a few times appearing satisfied with Pelulu’s cold response. And thus, began the little tale of Pelulu’s adventure who was separated from the adventurer.
“Wow... is this your mansion?”
Pelulu’s eyes became glued to Filecia’s mansion that stood near a scenic location facing the square near the palace. There was no doubt that they are wealthy for being able to build such an independent mansion among the many collective establishments comprising a combination of housing and shops.
“Welcome to my humble house, Miss Pelulu,” said Filencia to Pelulu who was somehow immobile.
Pelulu later retorted while scratching her head, “Err... can you drop the “Miss” when you call me? Because I’m just a nobody...”
Filecia looked stupefied and blurted, “But?? You have overcome so many dangerous adventures, haven’t you?”
Pelulu then clutched her head and rebuked her, “Gosh, for the millionth time!! It was the adventurer who did everything, I was just tagging along! Moreover, I’m only here to check what’s been going on. It’s impossible for me to exterminate monsters alone, understand?”
“So, you mean if there’s someone to help you, you can do it?” a voice was then heard.
As she turned to the direction the voice came from, a young lad in a queer lightweight outfit was seen standing. After staring at the familiar figure for a while, she succeeded in pulling the right name out of all the names that sprang to her mind from her memory.
“Aha! The vagabond in Ethos Fortress!! If I remember right, your name’s Balsette, right?”
“Hahaha, it’s an honor that you remember me... Hmm, looks like you’re in the middle of a new adventure while waiting for your reunion with the adventurer with you back then... but it seems to me that the mission is way beyond your capability, am I right?”
The second half of Balsette’s words got on her nerves and she flinched for a second. “It’s none of your business! Even though the adventurer isn’t with me, if it’s just one or two adventures, I...”
She pretended to look tough but she couldn’t help it as her voice naturally turned weak at the end of her sentence. As she faced down, Balsette knelt down before her.
“I don’ mind helping till the mystery in this mansion is solved, what do you think?” he offered.
Looking at Balsette who smiled at her, Pelulu lifted her head and exclaimed, “What?! You?”
She pulled a face but could barely hide the subtle smile on her face. Filecia who was watching next to them also beamed.
“Help from an unexpected person, this is great! Well, let’s get going! Stay alert and be on your guard!” warned Filecia.
At the same time, she clenched her jaw and opened wide the heavy and massive wooden doors.
Led by Filecia, Pelulu and Balsette proceeded cautiously into the mansion as the doors slammed shut. It was brighter inside than they thought as sunshine, which intensity had been reduced by the intricate lattice work, came in through the window. The three of them progressed quietly. A few moments later, Filecia broke the silence.
“It’s coming! Watch out!!”
A rhythmic clip-clop sound could be heard coming from in front of them before Pelulu could even ask. They reflexively ducked as it drew near and flew over them.
“W-what was that?!” shouted Pelulu. As she turned around, it turned out to be a leather-covered easy chair with cabriole legs resembling a feline that was about to come running back to her after changing its direction.
“What...? A... a chair?!”
The chair dashed towards Pelulu while excitedly stomping its four legs on the floor. As Pelulu tried to run backward while facing the chair, she tripped and fell.
“Awwwww!” she shrieked while covering her head with her arms.
Balsette then stepped forward, drew his dagger and blocked the charging chair by thrusting his dagger at it... but the next moment, it braked using its right foreleg and quickly turned both of its hind legs that were in the air around. Then it swung its right hind leg to execute a perfect uppercut to Balsette’s chin. His big round eyes rolled back into his head and he fell on his back. Seeing that, Filecia screamed, “Balsette! Noooooo!!”
Pelulu rushed to Balsette, grabbed him by the collar and frantically shook him.
“Hey, Mr. Vagabond?! What’re you doin’!! You can’t get knocked down with just one blow!”
Soon after that, she heard a thumping sound behind her. She looked back gingerly and found the easy chair lowering its forelegs as it was about to attack. She put Balsette down, stood up and turned her body to look at it.
“Fine, bring it one! Just because you’re acting like a wild beast, it doesn’t mean I’m scared of you. A chair is a chair! I will s... sh-show you that I was not merely tagging along with the adventurer!!”
She rebuked it while her legs were trembling. At the same time the chair stomped its legs on the floor and jumped up so high that it almost reached the ceiling and threw itself straight upon Pelulu. “Aaaaa! I don’t think I can do it!”
Pelulu turned around and tried to escape, but once again, she stumbled and fell flat on her face. The chair’s right foreleg landed on her back and pinned her down.
As Filecia was about to help Pelulu, she was stunned by the sight unfolding right in front of her very eyes. The easy chair was moving its back forward and backward and swaying left and right as if it was rubbing against Pelulu that it pinned down with its forelegs.
“T-this is...?!”It looked exactly like what Filecia said. The chair was acting like a cat bunting and licking human hands. Too bad it wasn’t a cat, but a mere big chair made of wood and leather. Pelulu was not enjoying it.
“Argh! No no nooooo!! What the heck is this?! Hey, don’t just stand there watch! Help me!”
While the chair was playing with Pelulu, Filecia looked around it and found something shining attached under the seat. She caught it off guard and removed it. The chair that had been unbelievably moving immediately came to rest. It just looked like a normal expensive high-quality chair no matter which angle it was viewed from.