“W-w-w-w-why is it so dark! Don’t you think it’d be better with more magic lanterns? I thought El Scaro was a civilized city, no?” shouted Pelulu in the middle of the city’s night street.
Although it was close to midnight, there were very few lights along the street – they were just old dimly glowing magic lanterns. The eerie scenery—different from that in daytime—caused her legs to quiver non-stop. “W-w-w-w-what should I do?! My legs wouldn’t stop shaking! Plus, I don’t have any weapons with me. There’s no way I can fight if the wooden dolls show up!!”
Looking at Pelulu who was about to cry, Balft laughed and said, “What are you saying?” he pointed at her back, “That thing you’re carrying on your back is not just an accessory. Just use it.” Pelulu quickly checked her back and she could feel the hammer’s handle with her hand. She took it out and recollected the hammer she got from Filecia when they were surrounded by tons of troublesome crystals in her mansion. “Oh, this... I totally forgot.”
“Just use it and hit the dolls with all your strength. That will kill them instantly... Well, it’s almost the time they come out. Watch out!” Balft sounded a little bit tense.
As Pelulu looked about with her hammer at the ready, she felt something poking her shoulder from behind, she smiled in discomfort and said, “No... no, stop it, Triel!! You’ve such a bad taste. How could you fool around at a time like this?”
Triel who was being vigilant and was in front of Pelulu turned around and asked, “What did I do?” Meanwhile Balft was kind of at the far right.
“Hah?! Oh, no... don’t tell me...” Pelulu slowly turned around and before her was an eerie wooden doll dancing creepily. A long string with an accessory similar to a counterweight tied at the tip was attached to its limbs. Each time the doll danced and moved its limbs, the accessory nudged the tip of her shoulder. She watched the doll dance for a while, but as soon as its face drew near to her, “A-a-ahhhhh!” she shrieked and swung the hammer as powerful as she could. The doll was smashed up completely and it sounded as if a stack of dry boards had been broken. That served like a cue as wooden dolls began to appear and dance like crazy everywhere in the vicinity.
“All right! Leave them to me!!” Without inflicting fatal wounds, Balft used his axe on the dolls, nimbly driving them toward Pelulu. A long queue of dolls soon formed in front of Pelulu. She smashed them down one after another with her hammer.
“Hey! Why do you keep on driving them toward me?! This would take forever!” Pelulu yelled at Balft. However, he just laughed and waved his hand. “Keep going! There are more coming!” he said as he joined Triel. Triel stared at Pelulu who was fighting hard against the wooden dolls and murmured, “I hope this will help her forget her troubles even if it’s just a little...”
“She’ll be fine. She looks so much better now. Moreover, the twinkle in her eyes has mostly come back...,” said Balft while moving his head up and down. Then he turned his gaze upon the sky, “Still, I wonder how the adventurer’s doing... Wrapped up in light and disappeared, just as King Elbano said, we can perhaps assume that the adventurer’s not dead yet. At least that’s what I wanna assume...”
“Me too... Well anyway, I have the feeling that we’ll soon find out the answer...” Triel also peered up at the sky and together with Balft, reminisced about the mystical adventurer whom they had come across many times in the past.
At that point, “Hey, you two! This is no time for you to take a rest!! Don’t just let me fight them alone, help me!!” shouted Pelulu who was bathed in sweat as she wielded her hammer.
Although she missed a lot, a considerable number of wooden dolls smashed with the hammer could be seen rolling on the ground. Seeing that, Triel and Balft exchanged glances and smiled.
“Ohh! Sorry, sorry. We completely forgot!”
“We’re so sorry. We’re coming!”
They each grabbed their special weapons and went to assist Pelulu...
“W-what... what’s this all about?”
A few hours later, Pelulu, Triel, and Balft who had destroyed all the eerie dancing wooden dolls, found themselves standing at an unexpected place. The place they eventually reached after trying to figure out where the dolls came from while fighting them was Filecia’s mansion. Could the incident of the dancing wooden dolls also be one of the mysterious phenomena occurring in Filecia’s mansion?
“For now, let’s ask the residents of the mansion...”
“Hey, wait! What time do you think it is right now!”Triel ignored Pelulu who tried to stop her, and she rang the doorbell. After approximately a 5-minute silence, the door opened and Filecia came out with her sleepy eyes. “What are you three doing here? In the middle of the night like this... hoammm...”
“We’re sorry to bother you this late at night, but after pursuing the eerie wooden dolls that had been scaring people, we found out that they came out of this mansion. Do you know anything about it?” Balft grabbed Filecia who was half-asleep by her shoulders and shook her violently as if to press her for an answer. Triel cut him off. Then, Filecia began to talk, but she sounded as though she was talking gibberish.
“Hmpf, wooden dolls? Are you talkin’ bout the dolls that dance creepily...? If yes, then it was something that happened before the case involving the crystals the other day. They showed up in the mansion in the middle of the night... and the servants who witnessed ‘em complained they couldn’t sleep cuz they were scared... then before we knew it, the strange phenomena caused by the crystals began to take place. Distracted, everyone completely forgot bout it... *yawn*...”
That story instantly drained all Pelulu’s energy. “C’mon... you shoulda paid more attention to that sorta thing... In the end, all the strange things that have been happening so far took place in your mansion. What’s worse is they were all set up by someone we don’t know!” said Pelulu to Filecia who was sleeping while standing with her upper body bent forward.
Triel turned around looking surprised, “What? All?!” she snapped, “All the mysterious phenomena that have been happening here so far were set-ups?! Who on earth did such...”
Pelulu picked up a pebble near her and took a step forward. “I have no idea who did them either, but maybe he or she is somewhere around? Like... there!!” she threw the pebble into the darkness while letting out a piercing yell.
At the same time, a small cry, “Aw!!” followed by fleeing footsteps could be heard from the direction the pebble was thrown. Without a moment’s delay, Triel swiftly caught the escaping figure. “Behave yourself! I caught the bad guy. It’s a girl!”
Being put in an arm lock by Triel, the criminal let out groans of anguish. “Ugh! L-let go of me! Let go of me!!”
Hearing her voice and her way of speaking, Triel loosened her grip. “Oh?! You’re... if I’m not mistaken in Sofya City...”
Hearing Triel’s words, Pelulu also peered into the figure’s face and said, “Ooh, aren’t you the lady in the mansion who always requested our adventurer to collect various stuff? If I remember correctly...”
“Hmmm... Lefina?” asked Filecia from behind. She staggered toward the figure in her pajamas while rubbing her eyes. “Aren’t ya Lefina...? What’re ya doin’ in a place like this...?”
“What! Ibrin...,” murmured Lefina. Pelulu later remembered something that happened when she went to dispose of the crushed crystals. “You were on the street when Balsette and I went to dump the crystals, weren’t you?” inquired Pelulu to Lefina.
She looked startled for a second before she looked away without answering.
“You also mentioned about Ibrin last time...”
“I-Ibrin?? Who is it?” asked Balft who came near last.
Lefina who had been silent all that time finally opened her mouth. “It’s the childhood name of that half-asleep loathsome hick girl! Though she’s just a hick, she called herself Filecia... *pfui* That name’s too pretty for a hick like Ibrin!” Astounded by her acerbic tone and acrid remark, Pelulu took a small step away from her.
“It’s true, I’m the brains behind a series of disturbances occurring here! But Ibrin started it. She kept calling me and my family hicks every time she could, and the other day she did something exasperating that eventually made me run out of my patience and tolerance! That’s why, I set up the wicked tricks I’ve been gathering for a long time all at once in this hick girl’s mansion. It’s a tit-for-tat!!”
Lefina was panting after her non-stop rambling. Pelulu, Triel, and Balft who were surrounding and looking at her from a distance were baffled. They had no idea what to do. “Lefina... I like you, ya know...,” murmured Filecia who was half-asleep once again. Pelulu and the knights were surprised to hear that, but it seemed that no one was more surprised than Lefina was.
“S-stop talking nonsense...You’ve done so many terrible things that got on my nerves...,” Lefina trembled all over.
Filecia who was still half-asleep laughed limply and said, “Oooh, Lefina... you’re taking my pranks too seriously, aren’t you...? Normally other people would just take it easy and wouldn’t even bother...You’re indeed the only one that seriously played along with my pranks...I couldn’t be any happier...” As soon as she said that, she fell asleep while standing. Pelulu and the knights were all taken aback.
Lefina, trembling with her head down, sternly glared at Filecia. “Because you were half-asleep, I’ll pretend everything you said today was a bunch of baloney! S-saying such things, y-you just make it difficult for me to retaliate against you, you know! Gosh, I don’t know what’s going on anymore!! Let me just go home! I’ll get even with you, just you wait, you hick!!” She clumsily left the town.
For a short while, the three of them—Pelulu, Triel, and Balft—were left dumbfounded. Subsequently Balft asked, “Is it really okay not to arrest her? She’s the mastermind behind the mysterious phenomena, right?” Triel smiled bitterly at Balft who was scratching his head, “It’s okay, isn’t it? Now that she also found out what Filecia really thinks about her...”
“Do you think what Filecia said was real?” Pelulu asked tentatively, “I think she was just talking in her sleep, though... anyways, after hearing that, Lefina probably changes the way she views Filecia a bit... isn’t it a good thing? That being said, the mysterious phenomena that happened repeatedly this time are over. Case closed!” she concluded with a grin. Her broad smile triggered its counterparts on Triel’s and Balft’s face.
“By the way... what do we do with her?” Triel pointed to Filecia who was sleeping while standing with her upper body bent forward.
“Woww?! Filecia! It’s really impressive that you can sleep in this position!” Pelulu was dumbfounded.
“We ain’t got no time to be impressed!” said Balft as he gently pushed down Pelulu’s cap, “For now, let’s carry her to bed before everyone wakes up!” As the sun began to rise—Pelulu, Triel, and Balft—started working on their final task from the mysterious phenomena case...
The next morning, Pelulu found herself waking up in a deluxe bed in the guestroom of the palace. She jumped to her feet, “Hm? I...”
She looked around and tried to recall why she was sleeping there... Yesterday, they returned to the palace, then after they reported to King Elbano that they had brought the case of the mysterious phenomena in Filecia’s mansion under control... the king threw a feast for them and it seemed she was having so much fun with Triel and Balft before eventually overcome by fatigue and fell asleep. She wondered who carried her to bed after that...
“Oh no... I can’t remember anything from last night... I hope I didn’t do anything stupid...” Just as she buried her head in her hands, a sentry came into the room hastily.
“Oh, Miss Pelulu! You woke up at the right time. Please come to the king’s chamber immediately!”
“Yeah? O-okay! Be there soon!!” She sprang out of bed, got changed quickly and headed to the king’s chamber. By the time she got there, King Elbano was in the middle of giving orders to the soldiers. Feeling the unusual atmosphere, she questioned the King, “Your Majesty, what’s going on?”
“Ooh, Pelulu! Sorry, but please go to Wanderers’ Plains at once! A monster was reported to have appeared there. There’s only one monster, but it seems to be so strong that it is overpowering the soldiers we sent out. Please, defeat it immediately!”
“Defeat it? Meee?! No no no no no, shouldn’t you ask Triel or Balft for this kind of thing?” Pelulu quickly turned down the king’s request without a second thought.
King Elbano shook his head, “I wouldn’t have asked you if they had been here. Those two left after the feast last night to resume their training...”
“No way?! That can’t be...”
“But, Balft told me before they left that... you’ve become as strong as them. I don’t think they said that just to compliment you, though?” Hearing that, a thought crossed Pelulu’s mind. The thought that Balsette, Triel and Balft probably showed up in front of her in order to make her stronger. If that’s the case, what she should do now is...
“... I’ll go. Wanderers’ Plains, right? No matter what kind of monster it is, I’ll knock it down just for this time!!”
King Elbano broke into a smile when he saw the determined look in Pelulu’s face. “Yeah! Very well!! I’m counting on you!” Bearing those words in mind, Pelulu started running toward Wanderers’ Plains...
A few hours later, surrounded by the soldiers of El Scaro watching over from a distance, Pelulu stood face to face with the monster with the hammer she’s already comfortable with in her hand.
“Miss Peluluuu, how shall we cover you?!” shouted a soldier from behind.
“I’m afraid I won’t be able to dodge if you attack too, so don’t do anything for now. Just launch an all-out attack if I get knocked down!" answered Pelulu before she peered at the monster. It was a small monster called Coryn, but its entire body was fully covered in blackish-blue and blackish-red crystals just like scales. Having transformed into such a heinous appearance, it should no longer be called Coryn.
“Those crystals... were the crystals we crushed and dumped around here? Don’t tell me they’re acting up again?!” Hearing Pelulu’s cry of surprise, Coryn the monster levitated small crystals circling her, transmogrified them into a spear, and darted it at Pelulu.
“Okay, bring it on!! Graaahh!” she knocked it away with her hammer, sending it spinning in the air and shattered it with a super hard whack from above. She subsequently made a full speed dash toward the monster, “Now it’s my turn!” attempting to knock the crystals off its body with her hammer. However, Coryn the monster created a crystal vortex. Pelulu got caught up in it and she was eddying in the sky.
“Whoaaahhhh! Ahhh ayyy ahhhh ayyy!!” The crystals entangled in the swirling vortex attacked her like buckshot.
“Miss Pelulu?!” shouted one of the soldiers that couldn’t stand watching her hurt by the crystals and suffer up high in the air, “Damn youuuu!!” He cast a stone at the monster’s head. The stone hit the back of its head and gave it a considerable shock. The vortex was suddenly gone.
“Hm? Ahhhhhh!!” Pelulu was falling to the ground as soon as the vortex disappeared... While whirling in the air, she positioned herself and posed as though she was swimming in the sky. Just as she was about to land, she raised the hammer over her head and fell straight on top of Coryn the monster!
“Gaaaaar!!” she aimed at Coryn and swung the hammer down with all her might before she even landed. The next second, the crystals shattered in all directions along with a loud crash. The soldiers impulsively protected their faces with their hands.
When the shards of the crystals finally stopped flying around, the soldiers looked at the monster’s direction. What came to sight was Coryn, lying unconscious on the ground and Pelulu, standing rooted to the spot. She was breathing heavily while still gripping the handle of her partially wrecked hammer. A moment later, Coryn woke up. It looked around and then fled by hopping like a frog, causing the soldiers to cheer. Amid their jubilant shouts, “Ah, the hammer’s broken...,” Pelulu let out a faint whisper. Relieved and worn out, she fell on her butt...
In front of King Elbano was Pelulu who got carried back to the palace on one of the soldiers’ shoulders. The soldiers who had been overseeing her battle with Coryn the monster all the time were watching behind her.
“Your accomplishments have been remarkable. I can say unequivocally that you’re a person of importance that should be highly thought of...,” said the king looking satisfied. “I would like you to remain in El Sacro and assume the role of a counselor for mysterious affairs from now on. What do you think?” proposed the king.
The soldiers were whooping with joy when the king extolled Pelulu to the skies and asked her to undertake such a prestigious role. Nevertheless, she moved her head round to left and right, “Your Majesty, I truly appreciate your intention, however I’m a merchant and I think being a counselor or something like that doesn’t quite suit me...”
For a brief moment, King Elbano put on a perplexed expression on his face and soon asked gallantly, “So, what’s your plan?”
She grinned and replied, “Grandma Ryano... I’m going back to the caravan where my grandma’s waiting. And I wanna learn how to do business from zero again...”
“Since you’ve decided to do so, it seems that there’s nothing I can do to change your mind... It’s a shame to see all the experience and knowledge you gained from your adventures go to waste... It can’t be helped...,” the king said, disappointment heavy in his voice. The soldiers also looked down towards the ground, filling the air with an awkward silence...
“Also, Your Majesty, I would like to make one selfish request,” Pelulu started speaking again as though to defuse the awkward situation.
King Elbano set his eyes once again on Pelulu, “Selfish request? Fine, say it.”
“Before returning to the caravan, I’d like to go to Calle Mort once more. The adventurer had put me through so much trouble and caused me to suffer a huge loss. However, if it hadn’t been for the adventurer, I wouldn’t have gained this valuable experience that has even earned Your Majesty’s recognition... Therefore, for one last time, instead of bidding farewell, I would like to thank the adventurer... May I please?” induced Pelulu sheepishly.
The king smiled tenderly at her, “No problem. You may go. But Calle Mort is still far from safe. I need two people to go with her and guard her,” the king called out to the soldiers. Before anyone can even blink, two soldiers stepped forward and stood on either side of Pelulu, “Please allow us to guard Miss Pelulu!” they offered.
Pelulu looked up at the soldiers happily and said, “Well, please take care of me... off we go then!” she waved at King Elbano and left the palace.
The sight of her back told everything. That she was no longer that lackadaisical girl from several days ago when she just lost the adventurer, but a tough girl, full of confidence who has developed the strength to think and act for herself. King Elbano was staring at that retreating figure that slowly vanished in the natural light, his gaze hopeful...