Ex Strongest, Asking for Circumstances
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At first, Daniela looked at her mother, who was cured of her illness, as if she couldn’t believe what she was seeing.
When she asked for help, she probably thought it was impossible. Well, it was as a matter of course.
Daniela’s mother’s illness was essentially a deadly one. If she really believed that someone who just happened to pass by could cure such a thing, she should be worried about it. Even if she wanted to believe it, it was normal to be unable to believe.
But the moment she realized that her mother was really healed, her emotions exploded. First, tears welled up from her eyes, but then, a smile appeared on her mouth. And as it was, she bowed her head over and over again, and said thank you.
When she said thank you, her voice was trembling, but it was so sincere that anyone who heard that could recognize that it was filled with sincere gratitude.
By the way, it was supposed to be Aina, so Daniela bowed to Aina. Aina had a troubled expression, and she turned her face to Soma, but of course, she was ignored.
The situation continued until Daniela suddenly collapsed on the spot, probably because she was tired of crying, or simply exhausted, or both, and the tension was broken by relief.
“Serious… I didn’t do anything… I’m feeling so guilty, you know…?” (Aina)
“What? You will soon be able to cure such an illness anyway. In the end, it’s the same thing.” (Soma)
“It’s totally different! Goodness, you’re really…!” (Aina)
“But Daniela was grateful…” (Sheila)
“I know, but I’m not supposed to receive the gratitude. That’s what I was thinking. I’ll try to be the right person for those words, so that I’m not really lying.” (Aina)
Aina’s eyes were full of determination. It was somewhat forced, but apparently, things worked out this time.
Soma let out a small breath as he looked at Aina’s expression. Then, he muttered.
“So, where are we headed after all?” (Soma)
That question was directed at Sheila. They couldn’t stay in Daniela’s house for a long time because the people in the house who were conscious earlier, were gone. Therefore, as they decided to talk somewhere else, Sheila led the way.
Well, Soma could imagine where he was heading. As he was thinking of that, Sheila stopped in front of a house. It was a wooden house, similar to Daniela’s house. Sheila approached the door and opened it without hesitation.
She stepped inside the house and turned around.
“…Come on in.” (Sheila)
“…You’re still a girl of few words.” (Aina)
“Well, it’s somewhat predictable, isn’t it?” (Soma)
“Well, you’re right.” (Aina)
When they followed in while saying that, the interior seemed to be similar to Daniela’s house. Apparently, the number of rooms was the same, but this time they didn’t go to any room.
When they were led to the living room, Sheila sat down in one of the chairs while urging Soma and Aina to sit down with a glance. There was no point in going against it, even though she had a bitter smile as usual.
They both sat down on a chair. They opened their mouths to ask the first thing they needed to ask.
“Hmm… I suppose this is your house for now, Sheila?” (Soma)
“…Technically, I’m borrowing it, but it happens.” (Sheila)
“That means you live here after all.” (Aina)
“I heard from Daniela that a guard was hired in this village, so…” (Soma)
“…Yes, that’s me.” (Sheila)
Soma nodded as if he expected it already. Given that Sheila, who wasn’t originally from Veritas, was here, that was what it meant.
The question was, how did that happen?
“…When I came to Veritas to gather information, there were various things that happened.” (Sheila)
Sheila told him when he gave her a prompting look, but frankly, he was still unsure. Soma thought that those various things were important, but… well, he supposed that he had to unravel them little by little.
“When did you start gathering information?” (Soma)
“…Hmm, quite a while ago? After you disappeared…” (Sheila)
“Hmm? Is that so?” (Soma)
It was a bit unexpected. He thought for sure that she was gathering information in the same sense that Soma and Aina came here.
But when he thought about it for a moment, he realized that this was a given. It was simply physical distance.
The place Soma and Aina were at the moment was near the border of the empire. It was too far from Radeus, and it was difficult to travel there in two weeks.
Hmm… what kind of information were you gathering in the first place?” (Soma)
“Well of course, but… why did that happen?” (Aina)
“…It’s to support Soma?” (Sheila)
“…Yes, this is more of a decision of Radues as a whole than mine. Hildegard said this earlier that Radeus didn’t think the Saintess’ words were a total lie. Rather, she predicted that one day something similar would actually happen. Indeed, it really happened.” (Sheila)
“That’s the empire’s proclamation, right?” (Aina)
“…Yes. But I moved before that. I had a lot of concerns about moving as for Radeus.” (Sheila)
“Aah, I see. That’s how it is. “Certainly, Veritas is in the midst of a civil war, and how it handles the crisis is the most important thing for Radeus to know.” (Soma)
“But then, why did you move, Sheila? Speaking of combat ability, I’m sure you won’t have a problem, but considering that you’re an Elf, I think it would be hard to make a move.” (Aina)
As it had been mentioned before, Veritas was a country of the human race. Other races were having difficulties living here. As the country was in the middle of a civil war, the Elves would definitely stand out.
However, Sheila shook her head as a response to Aina’s question.
“If anything, it won’t be strange if the Elves are making a move. When they are involved in something, it’s normal for them to move around trying to gather information. That’s especially true when there are various things that I don’t understand.” (Sheila)
“Aah… is that so? I supposed it’s not strange to move around Veritas if you pretend that you’ve got involved in this, right?” (Aina)
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“Well, the people would be wary anyway, but I’m sure they are more wary toward the human race who move around so much.” (Soma)
“…For the rest, I’m least know to be from Radeus.” (Sheila)
“Aah… you’re basically hiding your face there. It was different inside the academy, but that’s probably not known to the outside.” (Aina)
“…Yes. So, I was exploring things and one day, I ended up helping someone.” (Sheila)
“…Yes, this village head. So, from that point onward, I ended up being a guard.” (Sheila)
“Wait a sec. I feel like you skipped some parts. How about your information gathering?” (Aina)
If she was working as an individual, she could do what she wanted, but Sheila said just a moment ago that she was moving for Radeus. Therefore, it would be bad to disregard the task of information gathering by becoming a guard for a village.
However, Aina didn’t think that Sheila was negligent. She had no doubt that there should be some reasons. Could it be that she prioritized the job of a guard… or perhaps…
Just because it didn’t look like it, did this mean that she was gathering information at the same time?
“Hmm… by the way, this village is so far from Radeus. I wonder how you met the village head.” (Soma)
“…Hmm, there are various circumstances.” (Sheila)
“Well, I suppose you’re right.” (Aina)
“…To be honest, I can’t tell you about that because I don’t know if I can do it.” (Sheila)
“Ooh… well, if you think about it, it is a village with a lot of circumstances.” (Soma)
After all, there was such a large barrier. It would be surprising if they were told that there were no circumstances here.
Moreover, it seemed that Sheila was hesitant to explain clearly. Therefore, he shouldn’t ask her too much.
But at the same time, he needed to know to a certain extent. Knowing nothing meant having nothing to hold as a reference. If he realized it way too late, he might move unreasonably.
He wasn’t afraid to get involved if Sheila was involved, but he would like to know at least that much. It was a speculation, but it was highly likely that there was a Devil in Veritas.
Soma didn’t think he had the luxury to do other things while dealing with the Devil. It was necessary to gather information properly in order to avoid a bad situation.
“Hmm… if you can’t say it, it’s fine, but what kind of village is this village? At first glance, it shouldn’t be a problem to talk about it.” (Soma)
“…The people in this village are basically trying not to come out of their houses, so it’s natural to think that.” (Sheila)
“That means there’s something going on with the villagers, right? But Daniela and others seemed normal, didn’t it?” (Aina)
“…Well, Daniela’s mother is an ordinary human. I’m not sure about Daniela because the outward appearance isn’t obvious.” (Sheila)
“I see… that’s enough to understand. In other words, is this a village where mainly non-human races live?” (Soma)
While looking at Sheila nodding, Aina was surprised as Soma. As mentioned before, Veritas was a country of human race. That was to say, there shouldn’t be any village created by non-human race. That was the country of the human race, and Veritas, of all people, should have been through about that.
It was true that this place was close to the border, and from Veritas’ point of view, it was far away, but even so, the existence of a village inhabited by non-human species was something new for Soma to know.
“…I mean this is a kind of hidden village. Actually, that’s how it should be.” (Sheila)
“How should it be?” (Aina)
“…Please don’t ask more.” (Sheila)
“…I see.” (Soma)
In fact, at this point, a certain matter had crossed Soma’s mind, but he didn’t dare to say it out loud. This was because at that moment, it was definitely certain that he would be involved in trouble.
As he expected, there wasn’t enough information to get involved here.
“…A place like a hidden village where non-human races live? Could it be…” (Aina)
“Hmm? Aina, have you noticed anything?” (Soma)
“Speaking of which, yes, but… it’s fine. I haven’t confirmed it yet. It’s not something I can talk about without confirmation, but I’ll talk about it once I’m sure of it.” (Aina)
“Hmm, is that so?” (Soma)
Aina didn’t know if what she thought was the same as what Soma thought, but it seemed better not to mention it for the time being.
For now, there was something else they needed to ask.
“…Hmm, is that it?” (Sheila)
“Yes. There are a lot of things I don’t understand, but I think I have a pretty good idea of what’s going with you.” (Soma)
“Yeah. The rest of it is going to be the stuff that you can’t talk about.” (Aina)
“…Well, now it’s my turn. Why are both of you here?” (Sheila)
Soma explained step by step from the beginning.
He went to the Holy City and met God. It was about the Demon King, the Devil, meeting Hildegard and Aina, and being taken to the empire.
He also talked about the situation of the empire, and he explained why they came here because he wouldn’t want to hide if Sheila was a companion.
“…Hmm, as expected of you, Soma.” (Sheila)
“Well, that’s my impression as well.” (Aina)
“Even if you told me that, I’m still wondering if that’s true.” (Soma)
Sheila looked surprised when he said he had met God, but at other times, her face remained as expressionless as usual.
However, from the look, it seemed that she was surprised at other things as well. Then, Sheila nodded several times as if to accept the story, and he turned her gaze to the two again.
“…Hmm, in other words, both of you are here to find out what that light is?” (Sheila)
“Does that mean you also saw it?” (Soma)
“…Yes, I saw it. It seems that all the villagers also saw it. But we don’t know anymore than that.” (Sheila)
“So, where is the direction?” (Aina)
“…In terms of direction, I think it’s the royal capital. I’m currently investigating that.” (Sheila)
“Hmm? Are you investigating it?” (Soma)
“…Yes, but I haven’t done anything much though.” (Sheila)
It seemed that Soma’s prediction was correct. To sum up, Sheila was working as a guard while gathering information.
Aina, who also thought that, looked at Soma, but he just shrugged his shoulders. Apparently, Aina had come to the same conclusion as Soma, and on that basis, he was telling her that they could do whatever they want. Then…
There was no need to hesitate.
“Hmm… do you need help with the investigation?” (Soma)
Rather, it seemed that Sheila was the one who was surprised by the question. She blinked her eyes a few times and tilted his head as if to say she didn’t expect it.
“…Would that be alright?” (Sheila)
“Well, Sheila seems to be in trouble, and I think I can get information faster.” (Soma)
“Well, even if we gather information, we don’t have contacts or anything. I think it would be best if we can work with you. After all, there are many things to think about.” (Aina)
“I’m sure we’ll get to that later. So, what do you think?” (Soma)
Sheila blinked repeatedly with her head tilted, but eventually her mouth loosened a bit. Then…
“…Yes, of course–..” (Sheila)
“Of course, you’re welcome to do that!” (??)
At that moment, a voice echoed over Sheila’s response.
Obviously, it wasn’t from Soma or Aina. To begin with, the voice was clearly heard from outside the house.
It was almost at the same time that Soma reflexively looked towards the door of the house while bracing himself, and the door opened.
The sound of stomping on the floor echoed. The same sound echoed two to three times… it was a stranger who showed up.
The face was vaguely neutral. It looked like a man and woman at the same time.
At the very least, the outfit was that of a man, but… anyone would be convinced whichever gender the person said.
“…Village head?” (Soma)
The person smiled deeply, as if to respond to Soma’s mutter. While looking straight into Soma’s eyes–…
“Nice to meet you! My name is Cecil Lepsius! How are you doing!?” (Cecil)
The person said such words.
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