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Completed ― The Saint Whose Engagement Was Broken Runs a Cafeteria, Where the Beloved Demon King and Ninja Visit Today (Alternatingly) – The Odd Saint Is [Secretly] the Demon King’s Favorite

Chapter 1: Annulled Engagement and Kasdar’s Fiance

It was a pleasant sunny afternoon near the carriage stop by the Demon King’s forest.

Suddenly, I, Hiira Seamacy, was kicked out of the carriage by my fiancé, Kasdar-sama.

It was on our way back from the expedition to defeat the Demon King, which was a pastime for aristocratic sons.

“Hiira, I’m breaking off our engagement. Also, you’re no longer needed in the party, so leave.”

“Eh. . .what?”

“I said you’re no longer needed. You’re expelled. Get off the carriage.”

My fiancé, Count Streltsy’s second son, made a hissing sound.

He was a beautiful 19-year-old man with silky platinum blonde hair like the sun god and bright green eyes like fresh greenery. He was a handsome man with a dazzling silver armor on his well-built body.

He looked like a prince from a fairy tale.

With a contemptuous expression, he looked down on me and tried to leave in the carriage.

I panicked.

“W-Wait, please. What happened? You’re not really going to suddenly expel me and break off our engagement, are you?”

“Reality is stranger than fiction, hahaha. Give up.”

“Eh, no way.”

I, [Saint] Hiira Seamacy, was 16 years old.

I had a plain appearance like a village girl with long hair in a peach ash pink color and crimson eyes.

Kasdar-sama called me “a village girl at the edge of the world” because of my ordinary appearance. Without the white robe of a saint and the [halo] shining above my head, no one would think of me as a saint.

“Kasdar-sama, it’s too sudden. Let’s go back to the capital first and talk calmly.”

“I don’t want to see your face anymore.”

“But even if you say you don’t want to see me, our engagement has been officially applied to the royal palace. At least let me talk to Count Streltsy, who is the head of the family.”

“I’ve already talked to my father about it.”

“When did you do that?!”

“I said don’t talk back, Viscount’s daughter with a poor household and small breasts.”

“. . .You’re lying, right. . .”

Feeling a despair that made my stomach feel cold, I muttered.

――The demon king’s castle subjugation this time was no different from usual.

We formed a party from the capital to the demon king’s forest, and while defeating the demon beasts in the forest, we conquered the trial hall of the demon king’s castle one after another.

There were four party members.

Kasdar-sama was the leader, followed by a witch, a ninja, and me, the saint.

When we reached the throne room, we were given the right to challenge the demon king with all our strength until the hourglass fell.

Depending on the outcome of the battle with Demon King-sama, he would give the representative a [proof] of magical bond.

The purification of the demon king’s challenge is like a coming-of-age ceremony for all noble boys aged 18 to 22.

Gathering party members also shows their popularity and connections.

Depending on the content of the magical bond, the success of our country’s noble sons can be determined.

Kasdar-sama, my fiancé, was 19 years old.

He was a [genius] who had injured the demon king, and there was no one of the same age as him.

Although we were no match for the demon king in this challenge, well, there are days like that.

Just being able to meet is already a great achievement.

So, we were retreating from the forest.

It’s troubling to suddenly break off an engagement and expel me.

Isn’t Kasdar-sama troubled too?!

“I was getting tired of you.”

Kasdar-sama looked down on me with eyes that seemed to see me as something dirty and let out a blatant sigh.

“I thought I’d try being engaged to the strongest saint, but I never thought you’d be like this.”

“Well, isn’t that your own fault, Kasdar-sama? You forcibly dragged me out of the monastery just because I’m a silver-class saint without even checking what my ability is.”

“Ha?!”

“Hii.”

I held my breath and shrank back. After all, he had pushed me around quite seriously before.

Yes. The engagement with him was a bolt from the blue for me.

I was living peacefully in the monastery when Kasdar-sama suddenly kidnapped me and forced me into an engagement. He was after my ability as a saint. And that incident was covered up by my father-in-law, Lord Streltsy, who donated money.

It’s a terrible story.

Still, I have been serving Kasdar-sama diligently until today, and that’s admirable.

“Listen, Hiira, I’ve decided to abandon you.”

Kasdar-sama pointed his finger at me sharply.

“You’re a maiden who has been given the gift of a saint’s ability from heaven, with a halo shining above your head. The holy emblem drawn by the halo resembles wheat, which symbolizes abundance. Your actual ability is silver-platinum, the strongest. What can you do?”

“I can produce wheat flour. . .what’s wrong with that?”

Chapter 2: Whip Whip little saint

“That’s what I’m saying.”

“Huh?”

“You’re so lame!!!!!”

Kasdar-sama, or rather, Kas, stomped his feet and showed his frustration.

He began to berate me without caring about the attention of those around us.

“Hiira!! You are undoubtedly the [saint loved by the earth] with an unprecedented saintly ability since the founding of the country!!”

“Could you explain the nickname?”

“Not ‘could you,’ damn it!! You were given a great nickname by the church, but in reality, you’re just [the strongest saint, but with abilities that come from wheat flour]?! It’s so damn lame!!!!”

I don’t want to cause a scene and make things more complicated, I shrink down and mutter.

Even though I shrink down, I still want to retort what I want to say because I’m a little annoyed.

“Even if you say that, Kasdar-sama. You almost died earlier when you couldn’t avoid the black dragon’s breath. Do you remember when you managed to eat okonomiyaki and come back to life?”

“It’s your fault that your defense ability didn’t work in time, isn’t it?!”

“Well, even if you say that. Because it was such a reckless and sudden death attack, I still have some complaints, you know?”

“What complaints, what?!”

“I thought the noodles in the okonomiyaki could have been a little crispier, so I’d give it a 70 out of 100.”

“Don’t worry about that kind of thing!!!!”

He punched the wall of the carriage. It was scary.

“Well, of course, I was relieved that you came back to life in a second. . .Oh, by the way, how was the taste?”

“It was delicious!!! It’s frustrating!!!”

“Yay~!!!”

“No, that’s not what I’m talking about!!!”

Kasdar-sama scratches his hair in frustration.

He’s a bit spoiled and childish, and when things don’t go his way, he throws a tantrum. But he’s handsome and comes from a good family, so even when he’s angry, he looks like the good guy. It’s amazing how being good-looking is a virtue.

“Ugh, I can’t keep eating cinnamon flour every time I get hurt! There’s no tension at all! And the sauce smells so delicious all the time!”

“But it’s not really a challenge to defeat them. It’s just a ceremonial challenge, you know.”

“You talk too much, don’t you?”

Kasdar-sama glares at me.

――Uh-oh, this atmosphere, I’m sure he’s going to slap me!

“Kasdar, aren’t we leaving yet?”

Just as I was about to take a defensive stance, a beautiful woman with a dignified voice appeared next to Kasdar-sama.

She was a stylish witch in black clothes with fiery red long hair that reached her knees.

Her name was Lala Stavicute-san, 18 years old and the daughter of a baron.

Lala-san looked down at me with her strong purple eyes.

“I’ll tell you now that I also agree with your expulsion, Hiira.”

“Lala-san. . .”

When Lala-san came next to him, Kasdar-sama became visibly smitten. He couldn’t take his eyes off her plump and curvy chest.

Without looking at Kasdar-sama, Lala-san sighed while running her fingers through her hair.

“I don’t care about things like tension, but I’m getting fat.”

“Getting fat. . .what do you mean?”

“I was told the other day by some annoying relatives from my hometown who I met after a long time, ‘Ojou-sama, have you become round lately? Are you preparing to defeat the Demon King with your fleshiness?!!’”

“Oh my, that’s terrible. . .”

“It’s so infuriating! I was treated as the most beautiful girl in my hometown! Me! How dare you! And why are you so skinny? Your bone structure is annoying!”

“Eek.”

Lala-san then started hitting me with her cane from above.

Kasdar, who was about to hit me, seemed satisfied and looked down at me with a smirk.

As they were doing that, a black shadow came between Lala-san and me.

“Lala-dono, Lala-dono, it’s not good to take it out on others. The best way to deal with it is to exercise and lose weight.”

“You be quiet, Synovidos Igahan!!!!”

“Ouch.”

The one who was hit with a cane while protecting me was Synovidos Igahan in black attire.

He seemed to have come from a distant foreign country, but he was a reliable man who was quick and considerate. He played the role of a buffer among the members with strong opinions.

With his slender body, black attire, hood, and white mask, I didn’t know his face, but he was a good person who protected me in various ways.

Dishes like okonomiyaki and chopstick rolls were also recipes taught by Synovidos.

“But to be honest. . .”

Synovidos looked down at me and muttered in a sorry tone.

“I also agree with Hiira-dono leaving this party.”

“Eh.”

Even Synovidos, whom I was quite close with, said that, and my chest hurt sharply.

If even Synovidos thought I was unnecessary, it was a little hard to bear.

“Synovidos. . .”

“Hiira-dono.”

As Synovidos was about to say something, Kasdar-sama clapped his hands to interrupt.

“Alright!! So, we’ll welcome a new saint to the party! Come on, introduce yourself.”

“Yes♡.”

When called, a beautiful woman with silver curly hair in a fluffy bob appeared from another carriage.

She had long eyelashes and droopy gray-blue eyes, and she wore the same white robe of a saint that I did, which clung to her beautiful S-curve body.

The [halo], the symbol of a saint, was floating above her head, just like mine.

Her [halo] was about the size of a palm, much smaller than mine, which was about shoulder-width.

She tilted her head and smiled sweetly at me.

“Nice to meet you. I’m Saint Vivian Paswest♡ I’m 16 years old and my ability is bronze rank third, but I’ll do my best♡♡.”

“So, Hiira, if you go to the mansion in the capital, I’ll give you your severance pay. See you.”

Chapter 3: Blast to Freedom

Kasdar got on the carriage with Lala-san, Synovidos, and Vivian-san and left me behind, for real.

He left me behind, completely abandoned me. . .

“What? No way. . .Is this for real. . .??”

This was just a carriage stop.

There was no place to stay. If anything, there was a resting place for the coachmen, but it was a place that felt like a world of alcohol, tobacco, and men. To be honest, it wasn’t a place where women and children could enter.

“What should I do from now on?”

I felt despair at that moment.

“Hey, isn’t that the saint of the Kasdar Party, that big halo?”

“Really. What are you doing in a place like this?”

“Did you get abandoned?”

I turned around with an unpleasant feeling.

There were adventurers with bad attitudes grinning there.

Since the Demon Beast was abundant in the Demon King’s Forest, many adventurers gathered to collect materials that could be sold at high prices.

“That boy is making people’s lives miserable.”

“Hey, Neechan, can you put a stop to your fiancé’s behavior?”

“Well, wait a minute there.”

Kasdar-sama certainly has a good appearance. However, that only applies to beautiful women and nobles.

His attitude towards commoners is the lowest of the low among the nobles. Lately, he has even picked fights with adventurers, making him extremely unpopular.

As I tried to back away, they cornered me with grins on their faces.

Looking around, no one would help me and avert their eyes. How terrible.

“Wait, please. I’m a saint, you know? I’m under the church’s jurisdiction, and if any harm comes to me, the church will punish you.”

“I bet even if we mess up, Saint-sama will fix it anyway. And as long as you keep quiet, no one will find out.”

“Oh, God. . .The founding king of this country, His Majesty Eitzicht, who is also the god of this country, is watching this!”

“I don’t know any god I’ve never seen before! You idiot!!!”

“Help meーー!!!”

I ran away while screaming. They chased after me, laughing.

“Hahaha, you can’t escape because of your halo.”

I bit my lip and ran desperately.

I left the carriage stop and headed towards the brick warehouses built by merchants, guilds, and various other businesses, away from the crowded rest areas and street vendors.

“Hey hey, where are you going? No one’s there.”

“You’re asking for help, yet you’re hiding behind a corner. What are you really expecting??”

Saints are gifted individuals loved by the earth. They are unable to use attack magic that would inevitably harm others.

In a country where anyone can use magic, even fire cannot be conjured without tools.

That’s why I am relatively powerless alone.

As I run, memories of the past flash through my mind.

Originally, I wanted to become a Sister with a regular job, using my abilities to feed everyone.

But that dream and future were shattered by my fiancé, Kasdar.

I had no choice but to prepare myself and work hard as both a saint and a fiancée, only to be abandoned.

I’m frustrated. I’m sad. But. . .

“I’m finally free.”

I entered the brick warehouse. It was probably abandoned, as the warehouse was empty. I held both hands in front of me and focused on the [halo] above my head.

The halo shone and spun, scattering wheat flour all around. Then I licked the flour and cast a defensive barrier on myself.

――And also inside the warehouse.

“Hehehe, we’ve cornered you, Saint-sama.”

“Wait, everything around here is white.”

It’s too late to notice now!

I stood tall and shouted loudly.

“I’m Hiira Seamacy, also known as the Wheat Flour Cinnamon Saint!! When I’m a saint, I’m serious, so don’t underestimate me!!!”

And then I took out a fire starter from my magic pouch and lit it.

BOOM!!!!!!!!!!!

I calmly left the warehouse unscathed from the explosion.

“Don’t worry. . .my dust explosion only burns and blows away houses and clothes.”

Although my body is in pain and I may faint from the shock, I am basically protected from harm.

Saints are gifted individuals loved by the earth. They cannot harm others with their abilities.

But they can burn down houses and clothes.

“At best, you can hitchhike with Mappa’s afro, you thugs!”

I walked away calmly with the explosion behind me.

――And then. . .

I felt my hesitation blown away by the shock of the explosion.

“That’s right. I knew that my relationship with Kasdar-sama would eventually become impossible. I have no regrets, so I will walk a new path in life.”

I didn’t look back.

I couldn’t go back to the monastery, and as a woman whose engagement had been broken off, I had nowhere to go. But there was no point in counting what I had lost.

“I will take back my life!!”

“. . .Hiira-dono.”

As I muttered to myself, overwhelmed with emotion, I heard a voice calling out to me from behind.

In an instant, a gust of wind hit me unexpectedly as I turned around.

“ーー!!”

I involuntarily closed my eyes, and when I opened them after the wind had stopped blowing. . .

There was a familiar, beautiful man in black clothes with long black hair standing in front of me.

Narrowing his golden eyes, he muttered in an emotionless, low voice.

“That was unfortunate.”

“. . .Demon King-sama. . .”

When I saw Demon King-sama, my chest tightened painfully.

I was expelled from the party. And thought I would never be able to see Demon King-sama again.

Chapter 4: Demon King-sama and the Black Dragon

The space we were brought to had only me, Demon King-sama, and his servant beast, Black Dragon-san.

The large Black Dragon-san, who was about three times the height of the tall Demon King-sama, carefully folded his neck, wings, and four legs and obediently lay down next to Demon King-sama like a well-behaved pet. It was like a small hill.

“Demon King-sama.”

I bowed my head in the manner of a “bow” I learned from Synovidos in front of Demon King-sama. I somehow wanted to express my gratitude with this greeting.

“It was a short time, but thank you for everything, Demon King-sama.”

“There’s no reason to thank me. I haven’t done anything.”

As Demon King-sama shook his head, his long black hair swayed smoothly.

The long black hair, which was almost long enough to touch the floor, was like a string curtain made of silk, casting shadows on his melancholic eyes and high nose bridge, and sliding over his glossy black clothes, making him look beautiful.

“That’s not true. When I was hit by Kasdar-sama, you always protected me subtly, right? You even blew Kasdar-sama away for me.”

“Did you notice?”

“Well, yeah.”

I smiled at Demon King-sama, who was staring at me in surprise.

Kasdar-sama, no, forget the honorificsーーwhen Kasdar threw a tantrum, he was the type to use his hands and mouth. I was insulted every day, and it was common for me to be lightly beaten or kicked.

Even so, when Kasdar was abusive towards me in the Demon King’s castle, almost 100% of the time, some kind of retaliation would occur. Suddenly, a hole would appear in the hallway and Kasdar would fall through it alone, or he would fall into a cesspool through a teleportation magic circle.

“Even during battles, when my cooking was almost ready, he would say, ‘Please wait a little longer!’ Both Lala-san and Kasdar would attack with the perfect timing for my recovery. Synovidos always said, ‘I’m just a behind-the-scenes guy~’ and disappeared from the battle, so I don’t know if he was of any help.”

“You’re quite observant. . .”

The Demon King-sama lowered his long-lashed eyes and tightly pursed his lips.

He seemed apologetic for being noticed that he was being considerate. He didn’t have to worry about it.

“Thank you always. It’s thanks to Demon King-sama that I was able to fulfill my role as a saint.”

The Demon King-sama turned his gaze towards me.

Every time we met in the throne room, I was always fascinated by his overwhelming power and beauty.

He had an atmosphere that was beyond this world, but his gaze was somewhat gentle.

“Hiira, that. . .”

“What is it?”

“. . .”

Demon King-sama pressed his thin lips together and fell silent.

I wonder if there’s something difficult to say.

Seeing Demon King-sama fall silent, Black Dragon-san poked him with her tail.

Pushed by him, Demon King-sama opened his lips as if overflowing with words.

“. . .Please take care of yourself. I’ll be lonely without being able to see you. However. . .I’m glad you’re separated from that man.”

His eyes, filled with sadness, conveyed his feelings of regret for parting with me more eloquently than words.

“Thank you, Demon King-sama. I also regret not being able to spend more time with you. . .I’m happy we could talk like this, just the two of us.”

Yes. Actually, this is the first time I’ve talked alone with Demon King-sama.

Since I joined Kasdar’s party, I’ve been fighting against Demon King-sama as a challenger party in the throne room many times.

During that time, we somehow developed a sense of distance like comrades spending time in the same party, and we could communicate with each other through our eyes.

“At least let me send you to the capital. It’s dangerous for a woman to ride a carriage alone from here.”

“But I’m sorry.”

“Black Dragon also wants to send you home.”

Demon King-sama narrowed his eyes like a full moon as he stroked Black Dragon-san, who rubbed her nose against him.

“Well, I feel a little sorry.”

I want to refrain from doing it because I feel sorry. However, I feel like I can’t bear to be separated.

“Oh.”

Suddenly, I remembered something.

“Demon King-sama, do you have a moment now?”

“I do.”

“Y-you do?”

“I’ll make time for you no matter how much I have to. What is it?”

“Y-yes.”

Surprised by his eagerness, I took out my favorite spatula from the magic pouch and the chopped vegetables and kneaded flour noodles that I had prepared and put them in a storage container.

Demon King-sama’s eyes sparkled.

“That is. . .!”

Delighted by his eagerness, I grinned.

“I don’t mean to impose, but would you like to try my cooking as a way of thanks?. . .Although, I’m not sure if Demon King-sama eats the same kind of food as us.”

Demon King-sama nodded eagerly.

“It’s okay, I can eat it.”

“Then let’s make okonomiyaki!”

Demon King-sama suddenly became restless and cute.

Actually, I was worried about the fact that Demon King-sama always seemed to have a hungry expression while watching me cook in the kitchen made of magic, during our battles.

I couldn’t invite him to a takoyaki party during the battle and ignore the party, but I wanted to give him a treat someday.

“Leave it to me. The ingredients are. . .shredded cabbage, check. Water, check. Sauce with mayonnaise, check. And then. . .”

Once it was decided, I immediately started making it. I searched for my magic satchel for storing magical tools with excitement. It was specially made to allow for refrigeration and freezing.

Then, Demon King-sama called out to me.

“Is there anything you need to prepare?”

“Prepare? Not really. . .Oh.”

“Oh?”

I had forgotten something important. I looked at Demon King-sama with a pale face.

“There’s no kitchen. . .”

Chapter 5: Hiira’s Special Okonomiyaki

“Kitchen?”

“Yes. I always had Lala-san construct it with magic. . .”

“I see. So it doesn’t meet the safety standards for saint abilities. . .The magic kitchen for cooking with magic, huh.”

I am a saint, especially [Beloved Saint of the Earth], so my use of magic is restricted due to my strength. I cannot use magic that controls water, not just fire. Both are out of bounds for the use of a saint according to the [Earth].

So, all of that was left to Lala-san’s magic.

Then, the Demon King-sama gave me reassuring words.

“I can do creation magic at least.”

“I’m sorry, please do it for me!”

It’s embarrassing to ask for it after saying I’ll treat them, but I have no choice but to take them up on their offer.

“It’s okay. It’s not bad to be relied on by you, and. . .I want to eat with you too.”

Demon King-sama smiled and threw his golden gaze into space.

Just that, and a gust of wind blew through, and a magic kitchen for cooking with magic and a counter table with an iron plate were set up in front of us.

The iron plate in front of us is designed to cook and eat on it. The iron plate is spacious, and it’s big enough to roll Kasdar over and cook him.

“Wow! It looks so much like the magic kitchen I’m used to! It’s exactly the same!”

“I see.”

The Demon King-sama was also satisfied.

“Oh, is this iron plate the same one used in the traps of the Demon King’s castle? I’m so happy it’s big! I’ve always wanted to try cooking on it.”

The kitchen was perfect too.

There were shiny pots and pans on the two-burner magic stove, various cooking utensils hanging, an oven, a cupboard, a magic refrigerator, and a magic range. Even the fancy floral pattern on the white magic tools was the same as the ones I always used.

“Um, it looks like you’ve been looking at Lala-san’s magic kitchen a lot.”

If Demon King-sama had a chance to see the kitchen, it would only be during the conquest of the Demon King’s Castle or the challenge in the Throne Room. It was amazing that he could create such a perfect kitchen just by observing it.

“Ah. . .yes. I’ve been looking at it all the time.”

Suddenly, Demon King-sama began to act awkwardly.

Maybe he felt uncomfortable because he had been so leisurely during the challenge while observing the kitchen in detail. He didn’t have to worry about it.

“With this, I can make the same taste as always. Thank you!”

I put on an apron over my saint’s robe and rolled up my sleeves.

“Please sit down, Demon King-sama. I’ll cook right away.”

“I’ll help. What should I do?”

“Hehehe, it’s okay. Please sit down.”

In front of the restless Demon King-sama, I heated up the iron plate and added oil. I lined up the packs of ingredients that I had already cut and took out a new bowl.

Then, I shaded my hands with the halo and flour came out of my palms as the halo emitted a faint light.

On the other side of the counter kitchen, Demon King-sama and Black Dragon-san were staring intently.

――It’s a little embarrassing.

Feeling my cheeks getting hot, I kneaded flour and water to make a smooth dough and started baking it thinly.

I spread it on the iron plate with a ladle and rolled it thinly.

Ju-u, it made a sound.

Demon King-sama and Black Dragon-san, who were watching it bake, were fascinated with childlike eyes.

Hehehe. I get carried away when you look so happy.

“I came up with this way of baking during battles.”

“During battles?”

“Yes.”

I sprinkled dried fish flour on the round dough that was cooked through, and then added chopped cabbage and aromatic vegetables that I had purchased from the demon beast forest.

“When everyone was injured and needed to eat something quickly, it was very convenient to make a thin, unbaked dough. At worst, you could just feed them the baked flour. And while baking, I thought, ‘Oh, if there’s still time, let’s add some cabbage’ or ‘If there’s meat, let’s add it,’ and it became more luxurious depending on the situation. . .”

And then, I added the meat with a sizzle.

The thinly sliced beast orc was processed by Synovidos in the forest. I’m grateful.

On the pleasant heat of the iron plate, I turned the baked goods over.

I shaped it and started making yakisoba next to it.

“Since we have plenty of time, let’s bake the finishing noodles. The noodles are kneaded with plenty of Saint’s abilities, so they will make you feel better.”

The sauce that goes with the noodles was made using the knowledge of pharmacy and fermented foods that I learned during my Saint education.

When I stacked the pieces of noodles on top of each other, the final form came into view.

“Also, we still have eggs left today, so let’s put them on top!”

I cracked the egg on the iron plate and cooked it to the same size as the dough, then added the pieces on top and flipped it over.

After mixing it with the sauce, the perfect version of Saint’s okonomiyaki was complete.

“Here you go! Since it’s on the iron plate, you can eat it hot.”

“It’s amazing. The layered ingredients harmonize perfectly and stimulate the appetite.”

Demon King-sama looked at my okonomiyaki with a fascinated expression.

“What do you use to eat it? A fork?”

“No, chopsticks are fine.”

“Okay. What about Black Dragon-san?”

Demon King-sama blinked in surprise.

“You made one for the Black Dragon too?”

“Oh, I made it without asking, thinking you might want to eat it.”

In front of me were three okonomiyaki: one for Demon King-sama, one for me, and one for Black Dragon-san.

I unconsciously made one for him too because he was looking at me with such sparkling eyes.

“I’m happy even for my share.”

“Wait, Black Dragon-san can talk?”

“I can talk.”

“I didn’t know that.”

“If it gets out, I won’t be able to wander around the town freely anymore, and I’ll lose my dignity. That’s what the Demon King-sama told me.”

“I see. . .or rather, you wander around the town?”

“Well, yeah. Hey, Demon King-sama, can I eat too?”

“If you’re going to eat it as it is, go ahead. Don’t turn into a human form suddenly in front of women. You don’t have any clothes.”

“Oh, I already turned into a human.”

Before I knew it, a well-built onii-san was sitting next to Demon King-sama. He had muscular and spiky black hair with gold highlights, and he was a macho onii-san.

“I don’t understand your dignity, but you’re quite impressive.”

“Hehe, thanks. Hiira-chan, can I use chopsticks too?”

“Sure.”

“Seriously, you. . .”

Demon King-sama had a very serious and troubled expression on his face.

Black Dragon-san smiled at me and Demon King-sama. His sharp canine teeth were a remnant of his dragon form.

“I’ll let it slide since it’s hidden behind the table.”

“I’m fine with it, but. . .if you want, can I lend you my apron?”

“Really? Thanks.”

“Stop it. It’s dirty.”

I chuckled at the behavior of Demon King-sama and Black Dragon-san.

When was the last time I could laugh so happily from the bottom of my heart?

“Itadakimasu.”

I took off my apron and joined hands with Demon King-sama and Black Dragon-san.

Their movements were very beautiful, and I couldn’t help but admire them from the side.

(. . .Synovidos had beautiful gestures too, didn’t he?)

Suddenly, I remember the person who I always treated like a brother and whom I can no longer meet.

That ninja who taught me a lot about cooking and interesting things, someone I could rely on like an Onii-san.

[I also agree with Hiira-dono leaving this party.]

Remembering those words, I feel a pang of loneliness and my eyes start to water.

To distract myself from my feelings, I decide to focus on the taste of the delicious okonomiyaki in front of me.

――Unbeknownst to Hiira, the Demon King is staring at her profile.

Chapter 6: Goodbye, Demon King-sama

After the farewell okonomiyaki dinner.

Demon King-sama sent me near the walls of the capital. Even though Black Dragon-san’s concealment magic power sent us to the walls of the capital, no one noticed us.

“. . .Really, not coming back.”

We were facing each other in a space closed by concealment magic.

“It’s a shame.”

Demon King-sama’s black clothes fluttered in the wind as he lowered his gaze to his feet. It was an unfortunate but inevitable reality.

“. . .How about joining the conquest of the Demon King’s castle?”

“Even if you say that. . .”

It was an interesting proposal, but I shrugged my shoulders.

“I’m neither a nobleman nor an heiress with inheritance rights, so it’s not possible. Besides, even if someone invites me to a party, I don’t want to go for a while.”

“. . .That’s a shame.”

I couldn’t help but smile at Demon King-sama’s obvious disappointment.

“And if I attack, I’ll blow away Demon King-sama’s clothes. You saw it, the explosion earlier.”

“Yeah, it was amazing.”

“Right? I don’t want to turn Demon King-sama’s beautiful hair into an afro.”

Demon King-sama smiled slightly at my joke.

“So, where will Hiira go from now on?”

“I don’t have a home to go back to, so I plan to enter a monastery and engage in volunteer work as originally planned. . .But I lost my qualification to enter the monastery as a formal saint, so I guess I’ll be a non-regular one. Ahaha.”

“Qualification, huh. . .”

Was it just my imagination that Demon King-sama looked very distressed?

Suddenly, flames appeared in Demon King-sama’s hand.

“Since we’re here, let’s burn Kasdar’s family home on the way back.”

“Yeah, I wanna burn it too~.”

Fire came out of Black Dragon-san’s mouth. Wait, wait.

“I-It’s okay. I’ll just forget about that guy. It’s not something that should make Demon King-sama and Black Dragon-san angry.”

“Yeah. It’s better to gradually decline than to lose everything at once.”

It feels like they’re saying something very scary.

Although I was sweating inside, I decided to ask a fundamental question.

“Demon King-sama. Why are you so angry with Kasdar? It’s not like it has anything to do with Demon King-sama.”

“Because he hurt you.”

Straightforward words and a straight gaze.

Demon King-sama, who was looking at me with bated breath, had a very serious expression.

“What other reason do I need? For decades, no party has reached my throne in that forest. One day, when I was tired of sitting in that forest as a demon king, you came with Kasdar.”

It’s not like I brought them here.

Without even making such a retort, Demon King-sama continues his words seriously.

“Hiira-dono. . .I have been able to continue being the Demon King because I enjoyed meeting you. . .for these past few years. It was very enjoyable.”

“Demon King-sama.”

“That’s why I. . .”

Demon King-sama was about to say somethingーーbut he bites his lip and shakes his head.

“. . .No, it’s nothing.”

Then he smiles at me again.

“Be careful not to overuse your saint abilities. Overusing them will destroy you. . .I’ll be watching over you from the shadows.”

With a strong gust of wind, Demon King-sama rides on Black Dragon-san and leaves.

“Demon King-sama. . .”

I watched him until his figure disappeared into the sky.

As I watched, I thought.

“What’s next?”

I will continue to serve in a church far from the Demon King’s castle and the capital. If I were a regular saint, I might have been able to plan the work I wanted to do, but I know how non-regular saints are treated. However, after being forced into an engagement and then returning to secular life, losing my qualifications as a saint, I can never become a regular saint.

“What I wanted to do. . .”

Using my saint abilities to cook delicious food and help everyone.

I want to increase the number of people who can eat their fill, become healthy, and spend their time with a smile.

Memories of the enjoyable party where everyone ate delicious food passed through my mind.

ーーAnd the smile of Demon King-sama, who looked so happy.

“Whatever I do, I need to organize the situation first. I heard that I can get a severance pay if I go to Kasdar’s family home. . .First, I need to go through the procedures.”

Since I was free now, I had all the time in the world.

I prepared my identification and walked towards the city gate of the capital.

Chapter 7: The black dragon thinks

“Hey, Demon King-sama. I thought you were going to kidnap her.”

The black dragon flapped its wings and spoke to the Demon King on its back. Since they had a contract, the wind wouldn’t make their voices inaudible.

It had been a while since the Demon King had flown in the sky, and he was happy when he was called to go outside.

He was excited at the thought of being able to kidnap that saint with the big halo.

But instead, they just ate okonomiyaki and said goodbye.

“Why didn’t you kidnap her? I don’t get it. Normally, you would kidnap her if you like her.”

“That’s the reasoning of a beast. . .I have no intention of kidnapping her.”

“Huh? So, you just said goodbye for real?”

“Yes.”

“I don’t get it. If you invited her, she would have definitely come with you.”

“I don’t want that.”

The clumsy Demon King-sama murmured on his back.

“. . .Hiira-dono is finally free. She looks best when she’s doing what she likes and shining happily in her freedom. If I take that away, I’ll become like Kasdar. . .”

“You’re really clumsy, aren’t you? It’s because it’s your first love after living for hundreds of years.”

The holy beast’s words silenced the Demon King-sama. The black dragon laughed heartily.

“Is it really that bad if it’s revealed that you disguised yourself and wore a mask to protect Saint Hiira-chan, who was in danger from that damn fiancé Kasdar?”

“It’s not like that. . .”

“Well, it must be a surprise for Hiira-chan〜〜. You panicked and spoke in the same tone as 300 years ago, trying not to reveal that you’re the Demon King. But in the end, you became an innocent guy who couldn’t talk properly to Hiira-chan without the old tone. I never thought that you, the Demon King-sama who can make even crying children shut up, would be such a guy.”

A lightning bolt ran through his body.

Just as he was about to crash, the black dragon shouted to Demon King-sama.

“That was close, Demon King-sama?! Even I would have crashed?!”

“Crash alone.”

“That’s harsh.”

The black dragon flew silently until the tingling pain subsided.

As the Demon King’s castle approached, he spoke to him again.

“By the way, Demon King-sama.”

“What?”

“Why didn’t you tell her that you’re Synovidos? You were close, so if you told her, she might have changed her attitude a bit.”

“. . .I didn’t want her to hate me if she found out I was lying.”

“I don’t think she would hate you.”

“I spoke to her as Synovidos and told her to abandon her. . .I cannot be forgiven by her.”

“Are you too serious?”

“Shut up.”

“Hehe.”

The black dragon didn’t understand.

He couldn’t understand the heart of a master who wouldn’t kidnap the woman he loved and the clumsiness of not being able to tell her the truth. It made him realize that his master was originally a human and he couldn’t understand such feelings as a sacred beast.

“Well, but I think you can’t say goodbye to Hiira-chan with this. . .definitely.”

The Black Dragon spoke with conviction, while the Demon King remained silent.

“But Hiira-chan, she’ll have to live on her own from now on, in a place where even the Demon King-sama’s eyes can’t reach. Are you really going to be okay?”

“She’s strong. So there’s no problem.”

“She’s strong, but she’s too kind and naive.”

Despite being provoked, the awkward and twisted master remained silent.

The Black Dragon thought it was okay.

They both had a wild conviction that this wouldn’t be the end.

“I don’t want it to end either.”

The Black Dragon liked the awkward and lonely Demon King.

That’s why he wished for the saint, whom he fell in love with for the first time, to be happy.

Chapter 8: Ends with a check at the doorstep

Our country, the Kingdom of Lucidia, is a peninsula connected to the continent at the northern end.

The entire peninsula was once threatened by the rule of the Demon King, but the first king of Lucidia, the founder of the kingdom, suppressed the Demon King. It is said that the Demon King made a contract with the king and formed the forest of demon beasts at the base of the peninsula, the only land route to our country, to protect the kingdom.

In short,

Our country is peaceful because a strong Demon King is blocking the land route!

The first king is amazing!

That is the historical recognition of our country, the Kingdom of Lucidia.

It is said that the noble sons of the kingdom challenge the Demon King’s castle as a rite of passage, according to the contract between the Demon King and the royal family. It is also convey that the Kingdom of Lucidia always has enough military power to suppress the Demon King.

However,

“The actual Demon King doesn’t seem like someone who would rule like that. . .”

Demon King-sama is strong and kind.

If you actually meet Demon King-sama, you can’t help but wonder if Demon King-sama is protecting us out of goodwill, rather than just submitting to the first king. But even I can’t express such doubts. It’s too disrespectful.

Anyway, that’s why I returned to the peaceful capital of our country and immediately went to Kasdar’s family home, Count Streltsy’s townhouse in the capital.

“Viscount Seamacy’s daughter Hiira-sama, we’ve been waiting for you. Here are the severance pay and documents.”

As soon as I arrived, a beautiful busty maid handed me the severance pay and the document confirming the cancellation of our engagement at the entrance. At the entrance. While standing.

“T-Thank you very much. I appreciate your help.”

I didn’t expect to be treated so roughly.

Without even having the chance to give the sweets I had prepared as a gift, I was kicked out of Count Streltsy’s mansion.

Feeling dissatisfied, I looked up at the elegant brick house.

“Even if my engagement, which messed up my life, is over, it’s still too easy. . .”

I felt like I would get sentimental if I stayed there too long, so I quickly left and headed to the church’s Saint jurisdiction headquarters where I was registered.

All Saints in the country are registered and managed here.

At the reception, I went through the procedure of deregistration from the Kasdar Party. The receptionist looked at my face and documents alternately without saying a word and made a face like “Oh. . .”

“What’s wrong?”

“No, I’m sorry.”

With a smile that seemed to have regained composure, the receptionist asked me.

“Saint Hiira-sama, would you like to submit an application to join the new demon king suppression party?”

“No, not for now. I’ll think about it for a while.”

“Understood. We hope that Saint Hiira-sama will have a good encounter with the land.”

Without being particularly detained, I was sent off with a smile.

The receptionist seemed visibly relieved that I didn’t submit a job application.

“That big halo, could it be. . .”

“Isn’t that Hiira, Viscount Seamacy’s daughter? The strongest saint, you know.”

The other waiting saints and the staff members of the headquarters were clearly looking at me with curious eyes. When I tried to make eye contact, they looked away.

I sighed inwardly.

ーーBecause of my position, I don’t want to blindly believe in Demon King-sama either.

After leaving the church saint jurisdiction headquarters, I arrived at a bench in the royal park after walking under the empty blue sky.

“I’m tired. . .”

In a corner of the bustling green park, I opened the package of the souvenir I no longer needed on the bench.

Inside was a madeleine that I bought at the pastry shop earlier.

“Since I have it, I’ll use it as a reference for future recipes.”

I said “Itadakimasu” and ate the baked confectionery.

The sweet madeleine, baked in a plump shell-shaped mold, was very delicious when freshly baked.

“Yes, it’s delicious. . .ah,”

I unconsciously spoke to the side and looked at an empty bench, coming back to my senses.

Lala-san, Synovidos, and even Kas were not there.

There was no one left to eat delicious food with and say “it’s delicious” to each other.

“. . .I see, that’s right. I’m alone now.”

Kasdar made me feel unpleasant many times, but at least for me, who was an orphan, the Kasdar Party was the last place to belong to.

While eating baked goods, I reminisced about my long yet short life up until now.

ーーー

I found out that I was a saint when I was 10 years old.

It was when my parents suddenly passed away, and my uncle inherited the Seamacy Viscount family, and I automatically became his adopted daughter. My uncle already had a wife and children, and I was an unwanted burden that came with the Viscount family inheritance.

Chapter 9: Abandoned Hiira’s Half Life

My uncle, who became my stepfather, looked down on me and said:

“For a noble family like ours, a young lady is just a burden that eats up the dowry. Why didn’t my brother take this baggage with him. . .”

As a burden of the Seamacy Viscount family, I spent my time in the basement room with the servants.

My fate changed when I was taken to the national duty, the ability analysis.

All citizens have a duty to receive ability analysis at a designated church between the ages of 10 and 13. They shade their hands over the [crystal ball loved by the earth] carved from the black rocky peak of Mount Kuze and connect with the will of the earth, releasing their abilities within themselves.

80% of humans have the lowest level of ability.

It’s a level where you can easily start a small fire or create wind.

The remaining 20% are treated specially, and depending on the strength of their abilities, they are ranked as red copper, silver, gold, or silver.

I woke up as a [saint] the moment I touched the crystal ball.

Light gushed out throughout the church, and the converged light became a halo shining above my head.

The halo was shaped like wheat, and the priest who saw it was stunned.

“I’ve never seen such a big halo. It’s the first ability since the beginning of the kingdom!”

He shouted.

After that, the church paid a large sum of money to the Seamacy Viscount family to have me taken in by them, and I was to receive strict training as a saint. The priests who educated me all had shining eyes.

Because my supernatural power rank was the strongest and a special level of silver platinum rank.

It was a level of power that would normally be protected by the country for a lifetime.

Some people may have thought they could gain power as my educator, while others may have been purely interested in me as the strongest saint.

So why am I now alone, abandoned by my fiancé and eating sweets by myself?

It was because I was a peculiar saint.

“Saint Hiira, your saint power is of historic strength. But why does it manifest with [flour]. . .”

“Even if you say that. . .”

ーーMy saint power is of the strongest silver rank.

ーーHowever, the ability manifests with flour.

No matter how much training I did, I couldn’t directly use my saint ability like a normal saint.

To heal someone, I had to feed them flour with healing blessings.

To create a barrier, I had to eat flour with barrier blessings to activate it.

To perform an exorcism, I had to eat flour with exorcism blessings and shout “Haa!!”

It was very troublesome.

Unfortunately, the church had a doctrine that considered indulging in food pleasures as sinful as indulging in carnal desires.

“Indulging in food is equivalent to indulging in lust. Is it okay to have a saint with such lowly abilities as those of a priestess of the impure ancient gods?”

The important people debated religious studies in front of me. It was a fact that I was a worthless saint. . .

Of course, such doctrine no longer existed in a peaceful world. Nowadays, both commoners and nobles enjoy delicious meals without worrying about doctrine.

However, the church couldn’t elevate me as a special saint with the ability to produce “flour,” which was associated with impure.

After my position in the church became uncertain, the next place that caught my attention was the royal palace.

When I was summoned to the palace, Prime Minister-sama directly said this to me.

“Oh, saint beloved by the earth. Would you like to serve as a saint who offers flour for the meals of the royal nobles at the palace?”

A palace saint. It was the best way for a poor viscount’s daughter like me to climb up the social ladder.

However, I refused Prime Minister-sama’s offer, saying:

“That’s not possible. It’s a great honor for someone of my status to receive such an invitation. But It’s appropriate for me to serve the people as a common saint.”

――Looking back now, I may have been a little too proud.

However, as someone born poor, I was horrified by the world of the palace where food was wasted every day since I started going in and out of the palace through the church.

I couldn’t bear to become a wheat flour saint who was disposable and wasted wheat flour.

After all, the saint’s ability cannot be activated without connecting with the earth with a pure heart.

Even if I forced myself to produce wheat flour for the palace, I couldn’t produce the high-quality wheat flour that the nobles and aristocrats demanded.

A wheat flour saint who couldn’t produce flour. If it gets clogged, even the silver ability is useless.

In the end, after many twists and turns, I ended up working as a regular saint at a monastery on the border where I could see the sea.

My life in the monastery was short, but enjoyable.

I didn’t have any ambition for success, so this life suited me better.

Although there were times when we were poor and had a hard time, we all put our heads together, used my special ability to earn money, repaired the building, and put effort into charity work.

I had no power or status, but I was very happy.

I thought this remote place was where I would end up.

ーーBut those days suddenly came to an end.

One day, Count Streltsy’s son, Kasdar, kidnapped me.

“I heard that the strongest saint was exiled here. Hah, what a foolish woman who lives in the countryside, defying the royal palace. But it’s interesting!!”

I was hanging sheets in the garden when Kasdar and his servant suddenly grabbed me from the side. In no time, I was pushed into a carriage and taken to a nearby post town like an object.

“Who are you?!”

“Rejoice, I’ll engage you!!!”

“E-Eeeeeeh.”

Kasdar left me locked up in an inn overnight.

If unmarried aristocrats spend a night in the same room, they can proceed with a forced engagement procedure. The engagement is approved more quickly than the usual procedure.

Once engaged, I would have to renounce my saint status. Kasdar forcibly pulled me out of the monastery through a forced engagement.

In one night, I lost the happiness I had built up so modestly.

As planned by Kasdar, I lost my job and was forced to become his fiancée.

But, unbelievably, he didn’t know that I was a saint of the flour element!!!!

“What the hell is this flour-like ability of a saint?! I didn’t ask for this!”

“Just think that there’s a problem when a silver-class saint is left in a remote monastery!!!!!”

Surprisingly, Kasdar, who was an idiot. . .I mean, who didn’t know about my ability, had kidnapped me without knowing about it and was stunned when he found out.

However, because he was short-sighted, he quickly changed his mind and added me, his fiancée, to the party to defeat the Demon King as planned.

“Well, if you’re strong, that’s all that matters. Work hard for your fiancé.”

“Yes, sir. . .”

“Of course, it’s just an engagement, not love. I’ll make mountains of other women, so don’t complain.”

“Eh. . .”

“You’re just a plain, unsexy country girl. I’ve done enough by engaging you.”

Well, it’s true that it’s a hassle to be engaged to someone with such a taste.

So, as a nominal fiancée and a saint of the Kasdar Party, I worked hard, but in the end, I was abandoned.

Because producing wheat flour was uncool.

Uncool, huh. . .

“To begin with. . .Who the hell forced me to be engaged to this uncool person with this uncool ability?!”

Chapter 10: Let’s take off our “saint.” Let’s go out on the town.

Rustle, rustle, rustle.

At my scream, the park pigeons flew away in surprise. The squirrel that was picking up the scattered pieces of sweets disappeared with a “pyun.”

Feeling embarrassed by the surrounding gazes, I shrunk with my halo in my arms.

“. . .He really was a selfish man.”

I sighed and looked up at the sky.

The sky was filled with white clouds floating leisurely. The sunshine was pleasant, and the weather was perfect.

“To be honest, I’m glad he broke off the engagement.”

I couldn’t marry someone like him. No matter how many bodies I had, it wouldn’t be enough.

There were many things that made me angry, but now was not the time to stop in anger.

While watching the people resting in the park, I decided to think about my future.

“For now, I’ll look for a non-regular saint job at the monastery. . .but, I feel hesitant to ask for another introduction after rejecting the invitation from the royal palace and being forcibly defrocked by the monastery that arranged it. . .and the bad reputation is still attached to me. . .”

During my time with the Kasdar Party, the rumor that I, a silver saint, was “an incompetent saint who only produces wheat flour” had spread widely, and various rumors had been circulating with it.

It might be a little difficult to do well in a normal job.

“Maybe I should just do a job that has nothing to do with being a saint and that I have no experience in. . .like a kitchen maid job where flour is used.”

As I was thinking, ragged people walked by at the edge of my field of vision.

“They’re adventurers.”

They must have been working in the Demon King’s forest. They looked exhausted as they managed to move forward and return to the adventurer’s guild.

Challenging the Demon King’s castle was an elegant rite of passage for noble sons, but for adventurers who went to the Demon King’s forest to collect materials, working in the forest was a laborious task. Since there was no nearby lodging town, camping was necessary, and if they returned home with injuries, they might end up in the red due to the cost of the carriage.

“If only there was a place to rest a little around that carriage stop. . .”

There was a reason why there was no lodging town near the Demon King’s forest.

It was said to be a polluted land due to the influence of the Demon King’s rule (although it was hard to believe that Demon King-sama would pollute the land), and there were hardly any people who settled down to start a business.

Even adventurers who were fearless thought that camping would make the land polluted, so it was deeply rooted.

“That’s right.”

I suddenly realized.

What if I made a place for myself around here?

Fortunately, I had some money from the severance pay.

“Well, even if it doesn’t work out, I’m free now. I have to try everything!”

I stood up with determination, and my white robe fluttered in the wind.

A passerby who saw me muttered,

“Oh, it’s a saint.”

“I wonder what she’s doing alone.”

I had forgotten that the white robe of a saint was quite conspicuous, as it was a familiar outfit to me. I grabbed the hem of my skirt.

“That’s right. I stand out in this outfit. I have to hide the halo too. . .”

First, let’s go to a second-hand clothing store. There should be an open-air market for second-hand clothes on Shinshigai Street.

I’ll change into normal girl clothes and look for someone to accompany me on the carriage.

I’ll wear a cute outfit and change into a normaL girl. It’s a new life.

ーーー

ーーOne hour later.

I was dressed in a black knee-length skirt with flower embroidery on a white blouse, a sturdy floral corset, and a white apron with decorations that I had tightly tied. It was an outfit that didn’t look like a saint at all.

“Alright! Now I look like an ordinary woman!!!!”

I nodded to myself in the mirror of the second-hand clothing store.

“Miss, hurry up and leave once you’re done changing. You’re holding up the line.”

“Yes, I’ll be out soon!”

I quickly folded the scarf into a triangle and wrapped it around my head. This way, I could push the halo inside. It was a bit bulky, but I wanted to believe that I could hide it with the pattern and frills of the scarf.

After changing clothes and going out into the town, the sky had already turned a deep red color. I hurriedly headed towards an inn for adventurers and got a room.

The old man at the inn looked at me with a curious expression when I tried to stay alone.

“Are you here alone, young lady? That’s rare.”

“Yes, I came to visit my brother who works as an adventurer.”

I lied. I answered with a smile that seemed like that of an ordinary girl.

“I see. Be careful of the rough crowd. I worry when I see young girls like you.”

Ojii-san kindly gave me a room on the floor where there were many female guests. How kind of him.

After securing my room, I immediately headed to the dining hall and bar where the guests were gathering.

The dining hall and bar were already filled with the smell of alcohol and cigarettes before the sun had even set. From those eating set meals to those drinking alcohol, everyone was crowded together in the small space, making a lot of noise.

There, I chose a party with many women and spoke to them softly.

“Excuse me.”

“Hmm?”

“I want to go near the Demon King’s Forest on a shared carriage tomorrow. Can I accompany you ladies only during that time? Of course, I will pay you for your services.”

The female adventurer with a medal-like scar on her body smiled in response to my request.

“Sure. It’s scary for a girl to ride a carriage alone.”

“Thank you very much!”

“But why would a girl like you go to such a place?”

“I have some business there.”

“I can only protect you until the stop. Is that okay?”

“Yes, please!”

After successfully negotiating and making an appointment for the next morning, I returned to my room at the inn with a relieved feeling and flopped onto the bed.

Downstairs, the lively voices of the dining hall could be heard. If I looked outside the window with just my gaze, the sun had set and the city lights were softly shining in the purple sky.

Somehow, I felt overwhelmed by the tiredness of the day.

“I’m tired. . .let’s sleep.”

When I removed the scarf from my head, a halo floated in the air with a soft glow.

“Goodnight, halo.”

When there’s no one to talk to, I always talk to my halo.

As I slipped under the covers and fell asleep, the halo also lost its radiance and rolled onto the pillow.

Chapter 11: As an apology for the warehouse explosion

The next day.

I rode a shared carriage with female adventurers from early morning and arrived at a stop near the Demon King’s castle in the afternoon.

After saying goodbye to the kind adventurers, I went to check the warehouse that had exploded the other day. Originally a ruin, it remained as it was on the day of the explosion.

“Miss, what are you doing in a place like this?”

Ojii-san who spoke to me was clearly not dressed as an adventurer. He was a man in ordinary pants, a jacket, and a hunting cap, holding a broom in his hand.

“Excuse me, sir. Are you from Maytart Village, the one managing this stop?”

“Yeah, that’s me.”

Asked a question in return, Ojii-san nodded with a surprised face.

“I want to go to Maytart Village. If it’s okay, could you connect me to the village chief?”

“The village?”

The kind expression of worry turned into a suspicious face. Ojii-san looked at me from head to toe, showing his guard.

“Why would a girl like you. . .”

“The truth is, I’m the one who blew up this warehouse.”

“Eh.”

In front of the surprised old man, I lifted one side of the scarf on my head.

The halo, which had looked uncomfortable, faintly shone as if asserting its existence.

“Eh, are you a saint-sama?!”

It must have been unexpected. Ojii-san was stunned.

“Um, wait a minute. You blew up the warehouse, and Saint-sama has business in the village. . .so. . .”

“I want to apologize to the village chief for blowing up the warehouse and. . .I have something to consult with him. Is it possible to request a face-to-face meeting?”

“Well, if it’s just that, it’s fine. . .”

But muttering to himself why a child like you would do such a thing, Ojii-san put me on the carriage and sent me to the village.

“Make sure you catch the last shared carriage on your way back, okay?”

“Yes. Thank you for your kindness.”

As I was swaying on the carriage, I thanked Ojii-san and then looked at the scenery.

It was not a long distance to walk, but I was using a carriage because I had a lot of luggage. Soon, I could see the village and the fields.

About half of the fields around were not being cultivated, and grass was growing thickly on about half of the cultivated land.

The village looked like a dilapidated shack, even from a distance.

It was a typical situation for a village where there was a shortage of working men.

(As I thought. . .)

I had been curious about this village since I passed through the Demon King’s forest, and my expectations seemed to have been correct. This was probably a village where only people with some kind of problem lived.

The carriage that entered the village was returned to the stable. From there, I was taken by Ojii-san to the village chief’s house.

It was rare for an outsider, especially a saint, to come here, so people gathered one after another.

“It’s a girl.”

“A saint?”

“What’s that big circle on her head?”

“What’s she carrying?”

“Will she burn?”

By the time I arrived at the village chief’s house and sat in the reception room, the villagers had crowded outside the window, trying to catch a glimpse of the rare visitor. There was probably not much entertainment other than a visitor like me.

The village chief was an elderly man who had lost one eye due to an injury and seemed to have difficulty walking, leaning on a cane to move around.

Even the glass of water he offered me was slightly chipped.

“So, in other words. . .”

After hearing my introduction and the circumstances of the incident, the village chief began to speak.

“You’re the one who destroyed that warehouse, right?”

“I’m sorry.”

“That warehouse was originally rented by the merchants in the capital, but they skipped out on the rent, so it was left as it was. It was already broken, so don’t worry about it.”

According to the village chief, the land where the carriage stop was located was owned by the village and they collected usage fees from merchants and noble families in the capital as revenue. It seemed like a profitable story to have real estate income, but it didn’t seem like the village’s management was stable.

It was probably still often skipped out on or undervalued.

I cut to the chase.

“Can I borrow the location of that warehouse? I want to demolish the warehouse and open a restaurant.”

“A restaurant. . .?”

The village chief widened his one eye. The onlookers outside began to murmur.

“A girl like her opening a restaurant. . .?”

“Even if you build a restaurant in a place like this, it won’t sell because it’s probably contaminated or something.”

“Please spare us. We’ll just get skipped out on again. . .”

While listening to the voices of the onlookers outside, the village chief also made a grimace and rubbed his chin.

Perhaps the reason why these onlookers are left alone is to hear the village’s consensus in real-time. I see.

“Hiira-san right? Even though you’re a saint, I can’t help but think it’s reckless for a young girl to suddenly run a restaurant. Besides, that’s a place where rough adventurers and nobles gather. For safety reasons, I can’t recommend it.”

I understand what the village chief wants to say. There’s no point in arguing about it here. While looking at the onlookers outside the window, I proposed with a smile.

“By the way, Village Chief, are you hungry?”

“I’m always hungry.”

He returned a wry smile. I clapped my hands with a particularly bright attitude.

“Well then, would you like to try my cooking for now? Everyone can join in. If I can borrow the kitchen, the ingredients are here.”

Here. I pointed to the halo above my head.

“Can you eat that halo?”

“Is it fried food?”

The onlookers looked puzzled. Of course, you can’t eat the halo. Sometimes it looks delicious, but you can’t eat it.

“My nickname is [The Saint Beloved by the Earth]. They call me the Flour Saint. With an infinite supply of flour, please let me treat you all.”

” I’m hungry.” “Since we’re here, should we have her make something?” Voices came from all over. The village chief thought for a while, but. . .

Grrrr. . .

His stomach growled, and he agreed to my proposal. Yay!

Chapter 12: Roaring saint’s fist of anger! Special! Hand-kneaded udon

I am the strongest [Saint] in the Silver Class, also known as the Flour [Saint].

However, even the Flour [Saint] has weaknesses. I can’t start a fire alone.

“It’s been a while since I’ve seen a normal kitchen. . .”

I muttered with my arms on my hips in front of the village chief’s kitchen.

Recently, I had been using Lala-san’s very convenient magic kitchen, so this type of kitchen was like in the monastery before I joined the party.

The village chief and other onlookers watched me from a non-interfering distance. I turned to the village chief.

“You use magic to start the fire here, right?”

“Yes. But since there are only commoners in this village, we just use magic to ignite it. You can use the well water as you like since it’s abundant.”

“I see. So, we need firewood. . .”

I put my hand on my mouth and thought.

I want to feed the villagers my homemade dishes as soon as possible.

To activate my saint ability more strongly, I need dishes that can be thoroughly kneaded.

And to show that they can be made with almost zero ingredients cost, it would be best if they can be made with just the minimum amount of flour and seasonings.

Okonomiyaki is easy to make as long as you have the ingredients.

Even without using cabbage, it’s delicious enough to just roll thinly cooked flour into a ball.

However, it’s not very time-efficient to cook them one by one in a frying pan.

On the other hand, most dishes that can fill you up with just flour require a certain level of heat.

If I make bread, pancakes, or pizza without a magic kitchen, it will consume the village’s valuable firewood and magic. It’s unreasonable to ask for more when I’m just borrowing the kitchen.”

――Anyway, first I have to offer a prayer to the earth.

I took off the scarf on my head and knelt in front of the stove, clasping my fingers together and bowing my head. Then I chanted a small prayer to the god of the earth.

“It’s so saint-like. . .”

“She really is a saint. . .”

I heard impressed voices from behind. I ignored them and asked the earth in my heart.

Earth, please tell me. What should I make. . .?

At the moment my mind went blank, suddenly words bubbled up from within me.

[In my village, we served something with soft and chewy noodles. Many people who crossed the steep mountain pass were tired, so we served noodles that would soothe their tired bodies. . .]

“Udon!!!!!!!!!”

“Eek.”

The onlookers flinched at my scream. Some of them were surprised and fell over.

Thank you, Earth. I clenched my fist.

It was made mostly of wheat flour, could be eaten quickly, could be made all at once, and was easy to incorporate my saintly ability.

“What’s udon?”

One of the women in the crowd asked me. I turned around and answered.

“My friend, Synovidos, taught me. When I told him I was a wheat flour saint, he said there was a good recipe in his hometown. . .”

When I think of Synovidos, I feel a little lonely, but I’ll indulge in sentimentality later. Right now, I’m a saint of floured goods!

I rolled up my sleeves and tightened the scarf on my head.

I felt motivated.

“Can I use this table? I’m going to make noodles!”

“Noodles. . .?!”

I focused on the halo and held my palms over the bowl. The halo shone softly, and flour like snowflakes fell from my palms.

“Wow. . .”

The people around me were amazed at my flour. I could freely change the stickiness and quality of the flour. Even without sifting, if I moved my hands slightly, the flour would naturally fall in small grains. It was the result of years of trial and error.

One person in the crowd spoke to me.

“Saint-sama, would you like me to fetch some well water?”

“Thank you, that would be helpful.”

Thanks to their help, plenty of well water was prepared while I was making the flour. I took a sip of water to check. It was a mild soft water. This would work, I could make delicious sweet udon.

I took out natural salt from my magic bag.

“I’ll use this coarse salt. It’s made by boiling seawater from the Torch Inner Sea coast.”

I made a saltwater solution with well water and salt, and mixed it with the flour several times. The amount of water to mix with the flour varies depending on the season and humidity, but since I was making it near the Demon King’s Castle where I always make it, I knew exactly how much water to add to get the right hardness.

Knead the dough while crumbling it little by little so that it mixes evenly with the water, and let it rest for a while until it becomes a lump.

Then, while letting the dough rest, draw plenty of well water from the well and make soup with dried fish.

By the time the aroma began to waft, the place gradually became restless and hungry.

“Well, it’s about time to knead the dough.”

I turned my attention to the dough that had been wrapped in a magic cooking cloth.

Usually, I would step on the dough with my feet while it was wrapped in the magic cooking cloth, but. . .

“It’s a bit resistant to eat something that was stepped on by feet, even if it’s wrapped in a magic cooking cloth, especially since it’s the first time they’re trying it. . .”

I had no choice but to knead it by hand. With my thin arms as a saint, I had to knead it by hand.

I made a muscle and put my spirit into it, and started kneading the dough.

Knead. . .knead. . .

“Even though her arms are so thin, she’s so strong. . .”

“What are you talking about? Those are clearly the arms of someone who’s used to cooking. Look at those muscles.”

Knead. . .knead. . .

As I closed my eyes and became absent-minded, the voices of the place became distant.

In my mind, I could only think of Kasdar’s insults and that face.

[Ha? is it already done? I’m not in the mood for it today, so just throw it away. Alright? We can waste as much flour as we want anyway.]

Knead. . .knead. . .knead. . .knead. . .

[Don’t go out with that crying face. It was your fault that you got hit, but if you keep crying, I’ll be the bad guy. If you’re really sorry, stop crying already, you piece of shit.]

[You’ve been eating wheat flour all this time, but your breasts haven’t grown at all? Don’t you feel sorry for your fiancé?]

Tashh. . .Tashh. . .Dashh. . .Dashh. . .

[I only got engaged to you to drag you out as a saint. . .huh? ‘Take responsibility’? Who knows, idiot. Once we’ve made some progress in defeating the Demon King, you’ll be kicked out. That’s what a white marriage is, hahaha. Whether it’s white or not is up to self-declaration.]

Bash!!!! Bash!!!! Bash!!!!!

[I’m breaking off the engagement because you’re lame. Get off the carriage quickly.]

Bashibashibashibashibashibashibashibashibashibashibashibashi!!!! Bashibashibashibashibashi!

“Mama! I’m scared!!”

“Saint-sama. . .you’re so powerful. . .!”

“That’s a lie, she’s just a girl, right?! That power to knead that dough, she’s not ordinary. . .!”

“Saint-sama, with that intense expression while kneading. . .we can eat your serious noodles. . .!!!”

As the texture of the dough changed, I came back to my senses.

Before I knew it, the people around me were all staring at me in amazement. Some were even crying.

“Saint-sama!! Is there anything else we can help you with?!”

“Ah, um. . .yes, when boiling noodles, it would be helpful to have someone to help drain them.”

After that, we worked together to prepare the udon and successfully served it to all the villagers.

The place, who had been like onlookers, all came into the house one after another, lured by the smell, including dogs and cats.

The village chief’s house had become a full-fledged soup kitchen.

Everyone brought their own bowls and ate the udon that I continued to boil.

“It’s delicious and warming.”

“If you chop the noodles, they become soft and fluffy, so even grandmothers with missing teeth can eat them. It’s helpful.”

“Saints-san, can I have seconds?”

“Saints-san, I brought more water!”

The village chief, who had a confused expression like a fox caught in a trap while eating my noodles, had emptied the soup and was staring at his knee with his one eye wide open.

“My leg. . .the pain in my leg has stopped. . .”

I smiled at the village chief while wiping my sweat in the kitchen.

Well, that’s because I’m a silver-class flour saint. If everyone eats my udon, they’ll be full of energy.

Chapter 13: The Intro of Synovidos

Simple broth and simple seasoning.

Even with the plain udon made mostly of flour, everyone’s hearts and bodies seemed to warm up.

“How was it?”

“Well. . .it was beyond my imagination. . .”

The village chief answered in a dazed manner.

Filled with the happiness of eating delicious food and having seconds, everyone was overflowing with a sense of well-being.

“I’m glad you enjoyed it!”

Kneading the udon, boiling it, and serving it were all heavy labor. I was covered in sweat and exhausted, but I was filled with a sense of accomplishment.

“Also, after eating, I feel like my leg pain gradually went away.”

“That’s the saint’s healing power. My ability is manifested through eating.”

“Is it also the saint’s power that my feelings of depression have become lighter, not just my physical pain. . .?”

I think it’s simply because they’re full.

The villagers, who heard the village chief’s happy comment, also told me about the effects one after another.

“I was feeling a little sick, but now I’m completely better.”

“My bedridden grandmother got up and said, ‘Give me another bowl.’”

I took advantage of this opportunity to promote myself.

“If you lend me a place, I’ll provide the rice at our restaurant for just the cost of ingredients.”

“But. . .won’t it be considered ‘polluted’ if we open a restaurant near the Demon King’s forest?”

The bright faces of everyone clouded over.

This land was near the Demon King’s forest, so not only ordinary people but even adventurers didn’t want to stay here for long.

“I won’t let you say that it’s polluted. After all, everyone here lives here too.”

“We’re just wanderers who have nowhere else to go. Those who can leave this village do so.”

As I remembered the faces of the villagers and the barren farmland, I understood. They lived in a place called “polluted land” and all seemed poor, with only elderly people and women and children. The women were not someone’s wives, but people who had drifted here alone or with their children. If there were people who could use magic, it would be different, but if it was just a village of powerless people, life would be difficult without young men to help.

“In that case, I would like to ask for permission to open a cafeteria! I am also a lonely person with nowhere to go, but with the power of the saint’s exorcism, I can protect this village from evil. And even if there were prejudices at first, I think it will work out with word of mouth from customers who have tasted my cooking.”

“However. . .”

“Even if it doesn’t work out, I can at least give you all the rent for the land. It won’t be a negative for the village.”

The village chief looked hesitant and fell silent.

The surrounding villagers looked uneasy and looked at each other’s faces.

Unprecedented things are scary. Because they know the hardships, they fear change.

“Even if it’s delicious, we don’t know if we can really make a profit, and there’s also the matter of money.”

“At least, is there anyone who can be a guarantor?”

“A guarantor. . .”

It was impossible for me, who was alone in the world.

What should I do? My engagement with the Streltsy family has been dissolved, and I can’t rely on the Seamacy family either. Although there is a system in which the church can become a saint’s supporter, I don’t think I can rely on it and get approval after rejecting the royal palace once.

The atmosphere was clearly unfavorable for me.

How can I overcome the wall of trust that cannot be broken even with delicious udon?

――At that moment.

A carefree voice was heard from the ceiling.

“Oh, I followed the delicious smell and came here, isn’t it Hiira-dono~?”

“Synovidos?!”

“Who is it?!?!?!!”

The villagers, including the village chief, were in an uproar at the sudden appearance of a black-masked man sticking to the corner of the ceiling.

Synovidos came down from the ceiling with a shoo.

“I heard the story. I’m Synovidos. Everyone in the village, I ask you to trust Hiira-dono. Of course, I will be the guarantor.”

“Even if you’re called a guarantor, you’re the most suspicious man here.”

A perfectly reasonable retort was made. I honestly thought the same.

However, what Synovidos showed next was something that no one in this place had expected.

“Now, let me show you my identity to prove it to everyone.”

Synovidos drew something in the air with his finger.

At that moment, letters wrapped in light appeared in front of me.

“What is this. . .?”

The villagers were all stunned.

I shouted in amazement.

“T-This. . .a magic crest that guarantees identity by the royal family!!!!”

“As expected, Hiira-dono is knowledgeable.”

Synovidos nodded in agreement with a carefree voice.

“I’ve never seen the real thing either. S-Synovidos, who are you really?!”

“Well, I’m nothing special.”

To the stunned people, Synovidos tilted his head with a playful gesture.

“That was a joke. My hometown is a distant island country beyond the sea that has no exchange with this country. Therefore, if I don’t clarify my identity, I can’t live in this country.”

“I see, that’s why you have the magic crest approved by the royal family. . .”

“So, please trust Hiira-dono, as I guarantee it.”

The village chief and the villagers were speechless in front of the shining magic crest.

“If a person approved by the royal family is the guarantor, then we will lend the land to Saints-san.”

It was a quick turn of events. Synovidos turned to me, who was still in shock, and said,

“This kind of thing is called Komon-sama’s Goinro.” (TL: Don’t know what that means.)

His voice was gentle.

It was the same Synovidos from the past who always protected me in the Kasdar Party.

“Synovidos. You didn’t abandon me, did you?”

“I would never abandon you. . .If it’s for Hiira-dono, I will come running anytime, anywhere.”

Chapter 14: Maybe Synovidos, you. . .

“Thank you, Synovidos. Thanks to you, I was saved.”

I expressed my gratitude to him, the masked man who covered his face with black clothes.

He, who was thin and long, shook his hand sideways in response to my gratitude.

“What are you saying? It would be irresponsible for me, who recommended you to leave the party, not to support you afterwards. If there is anything I can do to help, I will lend you a hand.”

Synovidos was still kind as ever.

It’s embarrassing to rely on him even after being expelled, but for now, I’ll rely on him. And I swear to repay his kindness properly.

“I’m sorry for relying on you so much.”

“It’s also a pleasure for the one being relied on to be relied on honestly. It’s even more delightful if the person is Hiira-dono.”

“Thank you. . .”

After Synovidos helped me, everything went smoothly.

I quickly completed the procedures after returning to the capital, and within a week, I received permission to operate from the royal palace. Since Synovidos had been with me all the time, the conversation was very smooth.

I couldn’t thank Synovidos enough for taking care of me even after being expelled from the party.

“Alright! Next is the construction of the cafeteria!!!”

I headed to the planned site for the construction of the cafeteria near the carriage stop of the Demon King’s forest.

“Huh?”

What I saw there was a two-story cafeteria that had already been constructed and was shining brightly, with a congratulatory wreath hanging on the door.

“W-wait?! What happened?!”

“Well, I wonder what happened~?”

When I looked at Synovidos, who had accompanied me, I felt like he was avoiding my gaze inside the mask. . .

I could only be bewildered as Synovidos tried to distract me by whistling.

“What? Synovidos, do you know why this is happening. . .?”

Suddenly, I smelled the scent of magic coming from the newly built cafeteria.

It was a unique magical scent that was moist, sweet, and somewhere masculine with a strong depth.

It was a scent that I had become accustomed to smelling in this forest for the past few years.

“. . .It’s Demon King-sama.”

I looked up at Synovidos again. He stopped whistling and looked down at me seriously.

There was also a faint scent of Demon King-sama coming from him. It was a remnant of the magic he had absorbed.

“Synovidos, you. . .”

I didn’t know what expression he had behind his mask, but I had a clear conviction.

“What is it?”

He waited for my words in a calm voice. I spoke in disbelief.

“Could it be that you. . .?”

――The day after it was decided to open the cafeteria, Demon King-sama immediately became involved and made the cafeteria.

――Synovidos was the only one other than the villagers who knew about that story.

This was really something.

“Thank you, Synovidos!”

I couldn’t suppress my overflowing emotions. I held Synovidos’ hands and stretched to look up at him.

“You told Demon King-sama that I would open a cafeteria here!”

“Yes. . .. . .yes, indeed! That’s right!! You understand completely!!!”

“Geez! You’re so dense! If you’re going to tell Demon King-sama, tell me first~!!”

“Ahahaha, ahahaha!!! *cough* *cough*.”

“S-Synovidos is laughing too much, he’s choking!”

It was funny to see Synovidos laughing hysterically, and I joined in. He probably tried to take care of everything without me noticing.

“Synovidos, thank you for helping me again.”

I straightened my posture and bowed to express my gratitude to Synovidos. When I smiled up at Synovidos, who was tall and slightly hunched, his movement stopped for a moment.

After a pause, he replied in a gentle voice.

“Hiira-dono is an important person. I want to help you in any way I can for your new beginning. I’m sure. . .Demon King-sama feels the same way.”

“I see. I’m always being helped. I have to thank Demon King-sama too.”

“Hehe. I’ll tell him when we meet next time.”

“Wait, Synovidos, can you really meet Demon King-sama so easily?”

“Gulp.”

Just Kasdar reaching the Demon King’s throne room caused a big commotion, making headlines in the newspaper as a rare achievement after decades. Even when I was in his party, I could only reach Demon King-sama once a month, if at all.

So, being able to meet him so easily. . .could it be?

“Is Kasdar’s Demon King challenge going well with the new addition of Saints-san?”

“Oh, that’s not going well at all.”

Synovidos shrugged his shoulders dramatically.

“Not well at all?”

“Indeed, indeed. Thanks to that, I have time to help Hiira-dono with her fresh start. To be honest, it’s a fortunate situation for me.”

“I see. . .”

So, things aren’t going well without me.

“. . .Are you worried about Kasdar-dono?”

“No, not at all.”

I shook my head at Synovidos, who asked me as if he was trying to pry.

“It may be a cruel thought, but he needs to struggle a bit. He’s a Count’s son, even if he’s the second son. As someone who may stand above others in the future, he needs to change his mindset a bit more. The people around him can’t stand it anymore.”

“That’s good to hear. . .If Hiira-dono wants to reconcile, then. . .”

“You’re kidding. It will never happen.”

“Haha, that’s a quick response.”

Synovidos chuckled behind his mask at my words.

Thank you for worrying about me, Synovidos.

“Anyway, let’s focus on the procedures. With this, can we open the cafeteria next week?”

“Yes! We have to prepare ahead of schedule!”

After that, Synovidos helped me with various procedures and even escorted me to my room, which I was renting from the village chief.

I was able to work until the sun went down, thanks to Synovidos being with me.

“Thank you for today, Synovidos.”

“Hiira-dono. If there is anything that bothers you, please rely on me anytime.”

“Thank you. Please give my regards to Demon King-sama.”

“Understood. Well then, .”

Synovidos showed a hint of a smile behind his mask and then disappeared into the darkness as if melting into it.

I stared at the spot where he disappeared in the corner of the room.

As soon as I was alone, I suddenly remembered that noisy fiancé.

“I wonder how Kasdar is doing now.”

I wonder if he’s properly conquering the Demon King’s castle?

Chapter 15: Around that time, Kasdar.

The Demon King’s castle is a castle that stands deep in the forest where demon beasts reside.

Beyond the castle gate and the drawbridge is a door. To open that door, advanced unlocking skills are required.

“Hurry up and open it, Synovidos.”

“Yes, yes.”

Synovidos stood in front of the door for a few seconds, and the heavy door opened with a loud noise in an instant. At that moment, light rushed in like a gust of wind.

As soon as it was unlocked, only the party of the person who unlocked it could challenge the Demon King’s castle for a certain period of time.

“It feels like we’re just keeping the Demon King company instead of defeating him.”

Lala muttered to herself while watching Synovidos, who opened the door to the Demon King’s castle with a familiar attitude. After all, since the founding of the country, someone has been challenging the Demon King’s castle every day, and no one can defeat it.

Next to the cool-headed Lala, Kasdar looked at her cleavage and said,

“Whether it’s just killing time or not, we’ll gain recognition from the Demon King by achieving something.”

“Yes, yes.”

Lala is only employed as a witch.

And Kasdar is an employer who only wants honor.

So there is no need to question the way the Demon King’s castle is.

Following Synovidos’ guidance, Kasdar and Lala entered the castle. Saint Vivian followed them with clumsy movements from behind.

“Oh, a skeleton knight today.”

In the grand and beautiful ballroom that would be suitable for a ball, the appearance of skeleton knights, which were completely unsuitable, filled the room.

The type of trap that attacks is random every time they challenge it.

In front of the skeleton knights attacking all at once, Kasdar, with his arms crossed, shouted.

“Lala, do it!”

“I know! Burn them all, Fire of Antares, the one who resists Mars!”

The moment she raised her staff and chanted.

The stardust accessories on her black dress shone with magic, and the amethyst at the tip of her staff glowed.

The flame spread softly, licking everything, and turned all the skeleton knights into ashes.

“. . .Ugh.”

As the cost of the magic chant, she felt dizzy.

Next to Lala, Kasdar jumped out like a wild boar.

“Alright! Let’s go! Follow me!!!”

“Hey, wait a minute!”

Kasdar ran up the main staircase in a swashbuckling manner. However. . .

“Gwaaahhh!!!”

The main staircase suddenly collapsed, and Kasdar fell.

It was too late for Lala’s wind magic to soften the impact!

Lala looked at Vivian.

Vivian stood with her legs apart, thrusting her hands forward and letting out a relaxed voice.

“Ei~.”

Vivian’s donut-sized halo shone. Normally, a saint’s ability to soften some kind of impact would have occurred here, and Kasdar would have just rolled on the ash-covered floor unharmed.

However. . .

“Uwaaaahhh!!!”

Snap. Creak, creak, creak.

“It broke,” said Lala.

“It’s a failure,” said Synovidos, who knows where he was.

And Vivian slowly, with her legs apart, ran over.

“Oh no! Kasdar-sama, are you okay??”

Lala and Synovidos ran towards Kasdar, following her. Kasdar was in a painful state that was almost too cruel to describe, with his body twisted in various directions and rolling around.

“It hurts, it hurts. . .”

He groaned in a pitiful voice.

Vivian twisted her body and shook her big breasts as she looked at him, holding his hand.

“Ahh!! I don’t want Kasdar-sama to die!!”

“If you don’t want him to die, then heal him quickly.”

Lala couldn’t help but retort. Vivian widened her big droopy eyes in surprise and struck an exaggerated pose, activating her saint ability.

“Kasdar-sama~! Please get better soon!!”

A warm, sacred light poured down from the halo.

Kasdar’s body gradually began to heal.

“It hurts, it hurts. . .Heal me faster, it hurts, hurry.”

“Yes! Kasdar-sama!!! This is my full power!!!”

“Seriously?”

“Kasdar-dono~. Since it’s not Hiira-dono, it’s normal for Vivian-dono to have such abilities.”

“Eh. . .”

Lala couldn’t believe it and looked at Synovidos’ face.

Synovidos shrugged his shoulders and shook his head at Lala’s gaze.

“As a third-rank saint of red bronze, Vivian-dono has very ordinary ability values.”

“Is there really that much of a difference in ability between silver platinum rank and red bronze rank. . .?”

“Hiira-dono’s silver has a special meaning. Normally, it would be a third-rank red bronze and a second-rank silver, and on top of that, it would all be lumped together as a first-rank gold. However, those with excessive individuality or ability are given silver after deliberation―well, in short, Hiira-dono is [special].”

While Lala and Synovidos were talking, Kasdar continued to groan in pain. Even if he had complex fractures all over his body or something more grotesque, he would recover immediately after eating Hiira’s homemade food.

Kasdar had also been healed many times when he was injured. Since there was no pain each time and he immediately returned to normal as a matter of course, he thought it was normal.

“Wait. . .How does Synovidos know about the ranking system?”

Chapter 16: Lala’s anxiety and resignation, and.

The content he spoke of so naturally was top secret information strictly managed within the church. All saint management was done within the church, and the fact that only a few people in the royal palace and parliament were aware of it could shake the foundation of the country. Even a little girl like Lala could understand that.

“That’s a secret.”

Synovidos murmured softly with a voice that was somewhat smoky, and gently smiled with his finger on his lips (it was unclear whether he really smiled because he was wearing a mask).

“Oh, by the way, it seems like time is up.”

“Eh, what?! Are you kidding me?!”

Lala noticed the faintly shining body and screamed.

There was a time limit for the challenge of the Demon King’s Castle. All trials, including the starting hall, must be cleared within a certain period of time, or you will be expelled due to time-out.

“Lies, it can’t end with just the starting hall, this is the first time. . .”

The transfer was instantaneous. Before they knew it, the four of them were back outside the castle, at the demon beast forest station.

Kasdar’s back of the hand, still lying on the ground, was shining.

There was the date and the total number of challenge attempts written in magic characters, as well as the words, [Out of the question].”

For the Kasdar Party, it was the worst record.

“Ouch, I can finally walk.”

As Lala turned pale, Kasdar was finally able to stand up with the help of Synovidos’ shoulder and walked unsteadily.

“If Vivian isn’t used to it, then there’s no choice but to go back.”

“Are you giving up already?! Let’s do it one more time.”

Ever since Hiira was expelled, Kasdar hasn’t even reached the level of the Four Heavenly Kings.

This was the first time something like this had happened since Lala joined.

“Shut up. I have an appointment with a journalist for my autobiography tonight. Let’s go back quickly.”

Kasdar clicked his tongue at Lala and Vivian jumped out, emphasizing her chest and linking arms with Kasdar, cutting off Lala who was about to say something.

“Kasdar-sama~ I’ll do my best~♡.”

“Yeah. Let’s train a lot tonight~♡.”

He was such an easy-to-read man that his eyes became blatantly perverted just from that.

Lala followed the three of them, feeling uneasy and frustrated.

(Admittedly, Kasdar has a great achievement in injuring the Demon King, so I don’t have to take it seriously. . .but, isn’t he a little too relaxed?)

Lala had the urge to quit for the nth time since being hired by the Kasdar Party.

A perverted rich kid. A useless saint who blurs colors. A creepy ninja that no one understands. It was a full house as a reason for changing jobs.

――However, there was still a reason why Lala couldn’t leave.

(If I leave this party, I’ll be marrying a rich old man. . .I have to carve out my own life during the grace period. . .)

Lala’s bright red hair was blown by the wind.

As she held down her hair, a flyer suddenly flew towards her and hit her hand.

“What’s this. . .a notice about a cafeteria opening?”

There was a cute handwritten message that said a cafeteria would be opening at this carriage stop. It seemed like they would offer takeout, bento boxes, and daily specials.

“There are even crazy people who open shops near the Demon King’s forest.”

The land near the Demon King’s castle is said to be polluted. Even though everyone knows it’s just superstition, they don’t want to get close to it when it’s called dirty.

To open a restaurant in such a place, of all places. And the security isn’t very good either.

(“A girl” who can open a shop in a place with poor security and pollution. . .?)

Lala briefly remembered that petite, friendly, and simple village girlーーor rather, saint.

(Maybe. . .no, it can’t be)

She shook off her bad feeling. They had coldly turned her away, so she shouldn’t be in a place like this anymore.

Lala was always irritated by that smile and overly kind personality.

Even though she wasn’t suited to be a saint, she had stronger supernatural powers than anyone else.

(With Vivian and all, are there a lot of weird kids who become saints?)

“Hey, Lala! We’re leaving you behind!!”

“I’m coming right away!”

In response to Kasdar’s angry voice, Lala ran with her magic high heels.

She felt a sudden fatigue and hunger.

(Her food was so delicious.)

But she had already driven her away.

She must not think that she misses that smile and homemade cooking again.

Chapter 17: Saint cafeteria, starting with the takeout menu

So, I immediately started preparing for the opening of the shop.

The signboard had big letters that read “Saint Cafeteria,” which was drawn by Synovidos.

“I think it’s easier for customers to come in without worrying about the impurities of the land if they know that a saint is running the place.”

“I’m a little embarrassed, but I agree with Synovidos’ opinion! Let’s go with the “saint cafeteria” name!”

The restaurant was a two-story red brick building. The front had a terrace seat that opened to the herb garden, and there was an entrance beyond the porch made on the side of the garden.

The first floor was entirely a dining room, and there was an island kitchen in the back. Behind the kitchen’s back door, a stable door, was a backyard that had become a small vegetable garden. It was still newly built, so I had just planted seedlings, but I wanted to make it possible to harvest some ingredients here in the future.

And the second floor, which could be reached by the stairs next to the kitchen, was my room.

There was a guest room, a bath, and my bedroom. The rest was still empty.

The bright floral curtains and the trees in the garden were just like the ideal home I had always imagined.

“It’s like Demon King-sama knew my wishes and made this house for me. . .”

Maybe Demon King-sama also likes this kind of house.

We have similar tastes.

And Synovidos came to help me with various things because the Kasdar Party was free. Even though I had put up a barrier, he stayed in the guest room to sleep because he was worried about me living alone.

I don’t really understand it, but apparently he has excellent crime prevention measures with ninja techniques. I’m grateful.

“I’ll help as much as I can. It might be dangerous for a girl to be alone.”

“Thank you for everything, Synovidos.”

By the way, there was originally a rest area at the carriage stop. The shop was run by a master who lived in Maytart Village, and I made sure to greet and talk to him.

“If Saint-chan runs the cafeteria, we can focus on other tasks and alcohol. Let’s work together.”

The master kindly accepted the cafeteria after his family’s illness was cured by the udon I served the other day. It seems like a good idea to differentiate and collaborate with each other’s customer base, as it is a social gathering place for men who enjoy alcohol and cigarettes.

The target audience are the tired adventurers.

[I want a bento that will give me energy during work.]

[I’m tired and hungry, so I want to eat something and go back to the capital.]

Those are the people we are targeting.

At first, the cafeteria started with takeout and bento menus, but after two weeks of opening, with the introduction of the master who had built a relationship of trust with the adventurers, the menu we offered was selling out every day.

ーーー

Saint wakes up early in the morning.

The first shared carriage from the capital arrives in the morning, so I make daily assorted bread to match it.

As soon as I put the products on the terrace of the shop, adventurers come to take a peek.

“Saint-chan, what’s on the menu this morning?”

“Yes! There are three types today: bacon and orc bacon egg sandwich, bread with gratin inside, and plain bread with nothing in it.”

“Oh, gratin bread sounds good. I had it the other day and it was delicious.”

“Thank you very much!”

“Saint-chan, it smells good again today.”

“Welcome!”

It’s still an unstable situation to buy ingredients in the capital and cook, as I can’t predict the number of customers or their needs. So, the main menu is made with my own flour. The strategy was to have people try various side dishes with bread, observe their reactions, and get them interested in my cooking.

“Saint-chan, three breads!”

“Yes! Oh, bacon egg sandwich, only two left!”

“One gratin bread!”

“Yes! Synovidos, please get the stock from the back!”

“As you wish, my lady~.”

The carriage arrives and everything is sold out in no time.

The bread wrapping paper is used as a flyer, so the bread itself becomes an advertisement.

“Phew, we sold out again this morning.”

When I smiled at Synovidos, who was helping me, I felt like he smiled back behind his mask.

“I thought I would be bullied like on the first day of my expulsion because I used to be a saint of the Kasdar Party. But surprisingly, things are going well.”

“That’s because of Hiira-dono’s charisma. Everyone probably noticed that she was being bullied by him.”

“There are even people who say things like ‘She started this business because she was abandoned, I support you.’ It’s a grateful thing.”

I was worried because I was attacked right after being expelled from the party, but my worries have been unfounded so far.

We are planning to start serving in the cafeteria starting next week. I’m confident in my cooking skills.

“Well then, I’ll be going now. I’ll come back tomorrow.”

“Thank you for staying overnight and helping out, even though you’re busy.”

“No, no, it’s because I’m worried about Hiira-dono waking up alone. It’s just my self-satisfaction.”

With that, Synovidos tried to leave in a cool manner. Before he disappeared, I hurriedly stopped him.

“Oh, wait! I have something to give you.”

“What?”

I stopped Synovidos and handed him a package in a paper bag from the back.

“This is the usual thank-you bread. It’s a trial product, so I’d be happy to hear your feedback.”

“I’m grateful for everything from the accommodation to breakfast.”

“Also, if it’s okay with you, I have a favor to ask. . .”

I handed him a flyer and a letter about the opening of the cafeteria.

“If you meet Demon King-sama, please give this to him. It’s a thank-you for giving me this beautiful place with a magic kitchen, and I haven’t been able to thank him yet.”

“I’ll make sure to tell him.”

Synovidos nodded softly and put the flyer and letter in his pocket. Then he disappeared.

――And then, at night.

I was sitting on my bed wearing pajamas and polishing my halo when suddenly, Black Dragon-san came to my room window.

“I’m hereー!!!!!”

With his black hair that had gold mesh, Black Dragon-san naturally peered in through the window. Today, he was not naked but wearing leather pants and a leather jacket that shone black on his muscular body. He was shining brightly even at night.

“What?! Wha, wha, what??!?!?!?!?!!”

“Maou-sama wants to see you. Get on my back.”

“Like this?! Wait, let me change.”

“Just come on. He’s wearing pajamas too.”

“Really?”

“That’s what I said, so don’t worry and get on.”

“O-Okay. . .”

I was carried on Black Dragon-san’s back and he transformed into his original form and ran through the night sky.

A pitch-black forest spread out below us. The sky was dazzling with a full moon, and the stars were shining so brightly that they seemed to overflow.

We arrived at the balcony of the Demon King’s castle. Demon King-sama was already standing there alone, looking up at me.

――not in pajamas.

Chapter 18: Midnight Meeting

“I brought her~.”

Looking up at Black Dragon-san, Demon King-sama sighed in exasperation.

“. . .You went out on your own. . .”

Demon King-sama was not wearing pajamas, but his usual all-black clothes.

“Kyaa!”

I screamed and hid behind Black Dragon-san, who had turned into a human.

“W-Wait, please. Black Dragon-san, didn’t you say Demon King-sama is wearing pajamas too?”

“I don’t know, but probably. Right, Demon King-sama?”

“. . .Hiira-dono, I apologize. Black Dragon doesn’t understand the difference in human clothing.”

As I stepped onto the balcony, Demon King-sama draped his cloak over me. His body temperature warmed me up as I was feeling cold from the night breeze.

“I apologize for my appearance.”

“How’s the store doing?”

Demon King-sama looked at me with narrowed golden eyes, his black hair darker than the night. He was holding the flyers and letters entrusted to Synovidos.

“You’ve received them already.”

“Yes.”

Synovidos is really fast at his job.

Demon King-sama frowned and stared at Black Dragon-san.

“I didn’t intend to call you out at night. But he went out on his own.”

“But, Demon King-sama, you looked so happy looking at the flyers over and over again.”

“. . .”

Black Dragon-san didn’t seem to feel guilty at all. But I was grateful for the chance to thank him. I settled into my new home and deeply bowed to Demon King-sama to express my gratitude.

“Thank you for creating such a wonderful shop.”

“I did it on my own. Is it convenient for you?”

“It’s perfect! The kitchen and the second-floor residence are exactly to my liking. Did Demon King-sama also like this kind of house?”

“I thought of a house that would suit Hiira-dono. . .I thought you would want a garden and a spacious magic kitchen with a large work table. I’m glad you’re happy.”

Demon King-sama looked at me with a satisfied expression. His gaze made me feel embarrassed, so I fidgeted with my halo.

“I wanted to meet you in a more proper attire. It’s embarrassing.”

“Don’t worry, you’re cute no matter what. Your hair tied up with ribbons like chimaki (チマキ), or let down like noodles, both suit you.”

(TL: Sorry, too underpaid to take time to look for reference.)

“Chimaki. . .?”

“Ahem.” Demon King-sama cleared his throat.

“Sorry, forget what I said. When I look at Hiira-dono, I can’t help but think of food. . .”

“Fufu. I’ll bring you a midnight snack next time.”

“If you have any problems, you can talk to a guy named Synovidos.”

It was the first time I heard his name from Demon King-sama’s mouth.

“Did you become friends with Synovidos?”

“Y-Yes. . .”

“I’m so happy! Please take care of Synovidos during the Demon King’s Castle subjugation too. He’s a really nice person.”

“I-I see.”

I was genuinely happy. Synovidos, who was like my onii-san, and Demon King-sama were getting along well. It was nice to see the people I liked getting along.

“Haha, getting along, Hiira-chan.”

“Black Dragon.”

Black Dragon-san next to me was rolling on the floor laughing. After giving him a stern look, Demon King-sama carefully adjusted and tied the cloak he lent me.

“It’s getting late, so go home soon. You must have preparations to make.”

“But what about the cloak?”

“It’s okay, you can return it next time. If you call Black Dragon from the window, he’ll come to pick you up anytime, and I’ll visit the shop when I have the chance. . .See you again.”

“Yes.”

Black Dragon-san turned into a dragon and flew away with the wind. When I tried to get on his back, I remembered something I had in my magic item case.

“Demon King-sama.”

“Hmm?”

“. . .do you feel like having a late-night snack now?”

Demon King-sama raised an eyebrow at my question.

“Do you have something?”

“I do~ actually. I just remembered.”

I got off Black Dragon-san for a moment and took out a container from my magic item case.

It’s well chilled.

“I forgot that the refrigerator and the magic item case are connected. Would you like some of this?”

When I opened the case, there were four evenly spaced baked goods that were plump and round.

“I didn’t expect Demon King-sama to eat it, so I’m sorry it looks a bit messy. It’s a prototype of a dessert I was making tonight.”

“Is this. . .in the shape of a seashell?”

“Yes, it’s a madeleine.”

On the day I was expelled, I brought madeleines as a souvenir to Kasdar’s family. They were delicious, so I tried to make my own delicious madeleines in various ways.

“I made madeleines a few times when I was at the seaside monastery. The children would bring me seashells, and we would disinfect them and put seeds inside to make baked sweets. . .At that time, I used less sugar, and it tasted more like pancakes. But the madeleines I bought in the capital were round and fluffy, with plenty of sweetness and deliciousness. So I thought, can’t I improve my madeleines to make them even more delicious?”

I realized that the secret to sweetness was not only the amount of sugar but also the hidden flavor of honey. I also added lemon peel and brandy.

So, based on my experience at the monastery, I tried to make an arrangement with a larger, more satisfying size that was not a small tea-time dessert but more like a “snack to enjoy when adventurers are tired” in the capital.

“If you don’t mind, could you taste it? Please tell me your thoughts when we meet again.”

“Thank you. I’ll cherish it.”

Chapter 19: Don’t be proud

“Well then, good night Demon King-sama.”

I climbed onto the back of Black Dragon-san again and kicked off the balcony as Black Dragon-san flew into the night sky. Demon King-sama, who was getting farther away, waved at me until he disappeared from sight.

“Hey, Hiira-chan.”

Black Dragon-san spoke directly to my head with magic.

“To be honest, what do you think of the Demon King-sama?”

“Well. . .I think he’s a wonderful person.”

“I see.”

Black Dragon-san seemed to laugh a little.

“Then, what about Synovidos? Which one do you like more, him or Demon King-sama?”

“Eh? I don’t know how to answer that. . .”

I didn’t know how to respond to the sudden question.

“I love and respect both Synovidos and Demon King-sama as men.”

“Then, if both Demon King-sama and Synovidos said, ‘Be my woman,’ which one would you choose?”

“Eh. . .”

“Come on, what would you do~?”

I fell silent. I felt like the sound of wings suddenly became louder.

I was just confused by the question that I had never thought about before.

“But both of them wouldn’t look at me like that, would they? It’s me we’re talking about, me.”

“Is that so? Well, that’s fine, Hiira-chan.”

I looked up at the sky. The twinkling stars in the jet-black sky were as beautiful as Demon King-sama’s hair and had a deep, mysterious color like Synovidos’ black attire.

“It’s a waste for the two. As for me. . .”

“Is that so?”

“I’ve always been told that I’m plain, unfashionable, and have no cuteness. Besides, I’m a saint who was treated badly by Kasdar and then abandoned.”

Suddenly,

I felt a jolt of pain in my stomach and instinctively touched it with my hand as if to protect it.

To blow away the unpleasant memories, I made a bright voice.

“So if someone of the opposite sex confesses their feelings to me, I might have to decline and say I’m not good enough.”

“Eh, no wayーー.”

“Anyway, both of them don’t look at me like that! Ahaha.”

*Pat pat.*

Black Dragon-san didn’t give his usual rough response to my light tapping.

He escorted me to my room on the second floor of the cafeteria.

Before leaving, Black Dragon-san glanced down at me with his dragon eyes and spoke.

“Hey.”

His mouth was so big that it looked like he could swallow me in one bite.

What I heard from there was a gentle voice that was concerned about me.

“The one who said you were plain and had no cuteness was that scum, right?”

Asked in a surprisingly serious tone, I nodded nervously.

“. . .Uh, yes. . .”

“Geez. Listen, okay? Scum is just scum. What are you going to do if you believe what scum says and get trapped by it?”

Black Dragon-san leaned in close to me, almost rubbing his nose against mine.

“Here, you can pet me.”

“Eh, okay. If you say so.”

I timidly petted him like Demon King-sama did, and he closed his golden eyes in pleasure.

“I only allow Demon King-sama and Hiira-chan to pet me. If Hiira-chan was a boring person, I wouldn’t even bother being a mediator between her and Demon King-sama.”

“Black Dragon-san. . .”

“It’s important to be dignified. You’re the [saint loved by the earth], after all.”

With that, Black Dragon-san raised his head and stood up his huge body. His wings spread out with a rustle.

“Well then, sleep well and show Demon King-sama your energetic face again.”

Black Dragon-san flapped his large wings and flew towards the full moon.

As I watched his large body disappear, I felt warmth in my chest.

“. . .That’s right. I’ve decided to start a new life.”

Demon King-sama, Synovidos, Black Dragon-san, and the adventurers who support me.

Many people are supporting my fresh start, so I have to be positive too.

Well, whether Demon King-sama and Synovidos see me as a girl or not, that’s beside the point.

Chapter 20: Saint cafeteria, off to a good start!

At first, we promoted the restaurant through takeout and flyers, trying to dispel the negative image of a restaurant on polluted land by naming it “saint cafeteria” and using my title. We also applied a triangular cone-shaped purification flour at the entrance to ward off evil spirits.

Thanks to various efforts to appeal to adventurers, the saint cafeteria started with a full house.

I worked in the magic kitchen as a cook, while the hall was managed by the onee-sans from Maytart Village.

Since all the onee-sans had previously worked as maids or in restaurants, they brightened up the restaurant with their cheerful smiles from the first day.

By the way, the decoration of the purification with wheat flour is just a visible “charm to ward off evil spirits.” It has no effect on purification or exorcism. The purification and exorcism abilities of a saint are activated when you taste my own cooking.

My saintly ability only manifests when you don’t speak about it. However, it’s important to make it visible for customers.

The magic kitchen is visible from the restaurant. This is not only to make customers feel at ease by seeing the cooking process but also to make them feel more comfortable eating food prepared by a saint.

There are only two set meals, A and B.

And the difference is only in the main dish. It’s a self-service system where customers carry their own tray and clean up after themselves.

For those who want takeout, we provide a special bento box.

The lunch boxes are also made from the trees in the demon beast forest, so even if adventurers accidentally throw them away in the forest, they are made in an environmentally friendly way. The skilled craftsman who processes them is an old man from Maytart Village.

If you bring back an empty lunch box, we’ll give you a small snack as a gift on your way home.

“Saint-chan, we’re here!”

The adventurers who shared a carriage with me before called out to me. They had just finished a job, and their sunburned skin and sweat made them look refreshing and cool.

“I’m glad there were still some left. Saint-chan, I love your dumpling set.”

Today’s set meal includes bread, soup, and dumplings.

Dumplings are made from dough kneaded with flour and filled with meat, vegetables, mushrooms, or whatever ingredients are available that day.

Adventurers call them by various names, such as gyoza, pierogi, or pelmeni.

Today, we’re wrapping mushrooms and beast orc bacon that have been chopped up with vegetables and boiling them. Set A includes dumplings with white sauce and herbs, while Set B includes dumplings with sweet and sour tomato sauce.

“Wow, hot soup came out from inside. . .!”

“This is delicious even without any sauce!”

“It’s also delicious to dip the bread in the overflowing meat juice from the dumplings. . .”

I’m very happy to see the tough and muscular onee-sans enjoying the delicious food with their eyes closed. Other muscular adventurers also finish their meals and say “Thank you for the meal!” before leaving.

“Thank you very much!!”

I thanked them with a smile from the bottom of my heart.

The onee-sans also finished their meal and took the plates away with a glossy face.

“Thanks for the meal. If you ever have any scary experiences, tell us. We’ll be happy to help.”

An onee-san winked at me while flexing her biceps.

“Thank you very much!”

“Hmm, but Saint-chan is so small~. She looks like a little sister left behind in the countryside.”

“Ah, please don’t pat my head, it’ll mess up my hair.”

The satisfied onee-sans left with smiles on their faces.

Even as they left, more and more customers came in. It was a happy scream.

Before I knew it, it was already past noon.

I thanked the onee-sans who had come to work and paid them their daily wages.

“Phew. I need to take a break and prepare for tomorrow.”

I stretched and turned around, and Synovidos was standing there silently.

“Wow, you scared me.”

“It seems like it was a great success today.”

“Yeah. Synovidos, you were supposed to go defeat the Demon King, right?”

“Yes, indeed. However, we didn’t even make it to the Four Heavenly Kings today.”

“Hahaha, that’s too bad.”

As we talked, we entered the dining room and I lit the magic cooking stove.

“I saved some for Synovidos. Would you like to eat with me?”

“Is that okay?”

“It’s better to eat together, isn’t it?”

Synovidos scratched his hooded head at my words and sat down at the table with his lanky body.

“Since it’s the last meal, I’ll make it special. I’ll make a vegetable soup that’s cooked until it’s soft and tender, with crispy bread crumbs on top. . .I’ll serve both boiled and fried dumplings!”

Synovidos clapped his hands at the meal I prepared.

“Isn’t this a feast~? Well then, itadakimasu.”

“Itadakimasu.”

We faced each other and put our hands together, eating together.

I could see Synovidos lifting his mask slightly and breathing heavily as he ate behind the steam.

“I’m glad you’re enjoying the food.”

“It’s delicious, so it’s only natural.”

“Synovidos and Demon King-sama are kind of similar, aren’t they?”

“Gofongofolorogowonpkigohogoho.”

“Are you okay?!?!! Drink some water.”

“. . .Ugh. . .I thought I was going to die.”

I gave him some water and patted his back, and after a while, Synovidos seemed to have calmed down.

“I’m sorry, I said something weird.”

“No, no. . .But why do you think I’m similar to the Demon King?”

“Because you both say [Itadakimasu.] when you eat.”

Synovidos fell silent as if he had just realized something. Had he not noticed it before?

“I like both Synovidos and Demon King-sama, but I especially like the way they eat when they have meals together. It makes me feel like they cherish the food I make.”

“. . .As the Demon King is connected to the earth, he never forgets to be grateful to the land. Of course, I do too.”

“I see. . .”

As I sipped my soup, I wondered what kind of existence Demon King-sama was. In the stories that the citizens had been told since they were young, he was a scary and evil being that threatened the country. He was an existence that was connected to the earth and never forgot to be grateful to the land. Somehow, Synovidos’ view of Demon King-sama seemed a little different from the normal historical recognition.

However, when I saw the kindness of that Demon King-sama, I felt that Synovidos’ view was much more convincing than the Demon King-sama in the story.

“Hey, Synovidos.”

“Hmm?”

“You’ve been staying over quite a bit lately.”

“Well, umm, that’s. . ..”

Synovidos suddenly became flustered.

“Well, if it’s convenient, I thought it would be safer for Hiira-dono if you didn’t live alone, so I’m staying over. It’s not like I have any ulterior motives or anything.”

“Why are you panicking? I’m happy about it.”

“Huh?”

I smiled at Synovidos, who stopped moving abruptly.

“Since I’m no longer a member of the same party as Synovidos, he doesn’t have to bother with me anymore. . .But still, thank you for always coming back.”

“Hiira, dono. . .”

“I’m happy to have dinner with you.”

“. . .That’s my line. . .”

Synovidos stirs his water while speaking vaguely.

“Ahem, I forgot to take my mask off.”

“Aah, cloth! I’ll bring a cloth!!”

Laughing, our night goes on again today.

I didn’t particularly think about what it meant for Synovidos to have free time.

Chapter 21: Fictional Ball

“Look, Kasdar-sama.”

“You look so dignified and wonderful today too.”

“Have you been attending more social events lately?”

“I heard you have been appointed to the Royal Guard next season. Isn’t finding a new fiancée more important than defeating the Demon King now?”

“That’s right. Especially since the previous unremarkable fiancé is gone.”

The hall was filled with glamorous chandeliers, sparkling high-end leather sofas, glasswork and jewels scattered throughout, and an orchestra playing popular music in a sea of light.

Gentlemen and ladies before marriage were all dressed in magnificent costumes, and tonight’s banquet was being held.

Every time Kasdar walked, the shining eyes of women in evening dresses gathered on him. The silver-haired blue-eyed prince responded to their gazes with a glance, as if giving them what they wanted. The ladies each let out a hot breath behind their fans.

“. . .You’re very popular, Kasdar.”

Lala muttered in a disgusted voice next to Kasdar.

“Of course. I’m already a free man without a fiancée.”

Kasdar, dressed in a pale high-end tuxedo, laughed through his nose. Lala felt like she wanted to complain, knowing how much of a scumbag this man was, and yet everyone was giving him admiring glances. But thanks to her title as a witch of the Kasdar Party, she couldn’t complain about being able to participate in the capital’s ball like this.

“Well then, I’ll go have fun with the ladies. You just enjoy yourself without causing any trouble, okay?

“Without causing any trouble? Hiira is not here anymore.”

“You’re so annoying, shut up.”

Kasdar dismissed her with his chin and headed towards the young ladies with his polite smile and demeanor.

Lala watched his unnecessarily dashing back with a sense of disbelief.

“Geez, he may look good, but he’s trash on the inside.”

(I was once infatuated with him for about three days, dazzled by his appearance, polite smile, and status. But now, that time feels like a dark history.)

Lala switched her feelings and headed towards the table where light snacks were placed. She wore a black dress that emphasized her ample cleavage, with accessories resembling stardust scattered in her proud bright red hair. She had applied eyeshadow and glitter on her décolletage and hands, and wore thin anklets that swayed with every step like silk threads.

Lala was dressed up to the nines. Thanks to Kasdar, she stood out too, so she wrapped herself in the latest fashion to avoid looking inferior even slightly.

She also calculated that being a little too flashy for men’s taste would prevent other women from seeing her as a rival for Kasdar’s affection and help attract male attention to secure marriage.

(If I’m with Kasdar, I can’t afford to be seen as his plaything like Hiira.)

The young noblemen’s gazes were entwined with Lala’s every move.

(Please notice me. Invite me to dance skillfully and propose to me.)

Lala murmured in her heart with a prayer-like feeling while tilting the champagne glass handed to her by the server, conscious of the gazes.

Kasdar seemed to have started dancing with a flashy busty beauty right away.

(I wonder if she’s going to play with fire tonight. No way, right?)

Please don’t cause any trouble and damage the honor of the Kasdar Party.

While hoping for that, Lala waited for a gentleman to invite her to dance.

――Lala is the child of Baron Stavicute’s mistress. However, her father made a mistake in his business by expanding too much and had a considerable amount of debt. Therefore, he forcibly married off Lala to an older nobleman as a stepmother, hoping to use it to raise money.

It was no joke for Lala.

So, she polished her magical skills, won scholarships, achieved top-class grades as a witch, and received a grace period until her 19th birthday, which her father had set as a deadline, to spend as a witch of the Kasdar Party.

――But that’s only half a year away now.

Lala wants to get a job as a noble family’s exclusive witch or engage with a nobleman while she still has the honor of being a witch of the Kasdar Party.

“Baron Stavicute’s daughter, Lala-dono. Have you decided on your partner for tonight?”

Suddenly spoken to, Lala made a shy smile on the angle where her mole, which she prides as her charm point, is visible and looked up with a shy expression.

“I am Listok Count’s third son, Tova. Would you like to dance with me?”

A man with amber hair dressed in the attire of a palace guard approached her. He had a gentle demeanor, but his eyes were filled with the pride and confidence of a noble.

“With pleasure, Tova-sama.”

Lala heard the bell of the match ringing in her heart as she was led to the hall with a smile.

(Oh Tova-sama, please take me away like this. Fell in love at first sight, please.)

She danced the waltz while making her wish.

As Tova struck a pose that seemed reluctant to leave, another prince came running towards Lala.

It was busy, but it was a serious match for Lala.

Chapter 22: Drowning Man, Drowning Woman

“. . .I’m tired.”

After dancing with several people, Lala, feeling exhausted, headed alone to the beautiful balcony illuminated by moonlight. Suddenly, she saw a figure moving in the hallway.

She quickly recalled the dark color that was too plain for a young lady and the familiar color of the tuxedo.

(That person again. . .)

Kasdar was fooling around with one of the maids again.

It seemed that there was no convenient woman to take money from and send it home today.

Lala didn’t want to see it, so she turned her back to the hallway and took a sip of champagne in her hand.

Drinks were expensive in Lala’s hometown, so she had a decent tolerance for alcohol.

After drinking the moon-melted liquor, Lala leaned on the balcony railing with un-ladylike gestures.

“Lala-san, all alone?”

A sweet voice that sounded like sugar, whipped cream, and honey mixed with melted butter.

When she looked up with a heartburning feeling, she saw Vivian, dressed in a white lacy dress. With her large chest and buttocks and needle-like high heels, she approached with a unique wriggling movement.

Lala tried to hide the champagne glass she had just chugged, but Vivian seemed to notice it immediately.

“You’re strong with alcohol. Amazing.”

“. . .You’re making fun of me, aren’t you?”

Although she knew it was jealousy, Lala felt offended by the remark from a young lady who could drink as much safe water as she wanted.

Even with Lala’s prickly attitude, Vivian smiled with a carefree smile.

“That’s not true~. I admire you because Vivi never had alcohol before.”

“Oh, really. . .”

While talking, Lala couldn’t help feeling heartburn as she stole glances at Vivian from head to toe.

Vivian’s dress was made of delicate lace that emphasized her slender décolletage and fit her body perfectly, showcasing the extravagance of haute couture. Lala, who wore a semi-custom-made dress adjusted by hand sewing, lived in a completely different world from Vivian.

“Isn’t Vivian popular with men because she’s so skilled? I mean, there are plenty of gentlemen waiting for her even if she doesn’t laze around here with me.”

“Well, Vivi doesn’t really think about engagements or anything like that.”

“Huh? So you’re just here to make an appearance?”

“Yes ♡.”

“. . .Really, what a privileged life you have.”

Vivian is the daughter of Duke Paswest’s family. The Paswest family is a prestigious family deeply connected to the church that has produced many priests and contributes large amounts of donations every year to maintain connection with the church.

At first, it was hard to understand why such a girl from such an influential family became Kasdar’s saint at his party. But now it makes sense. Vivian is too ignorant and innocent; she lacks worldly experience. She must have been ordered to become at least one of Kasdar’s famous fiancée candidates as a dropout.

“Lala-san, you’re doing great. I’ve been watching your dance since earlier.”

(It’s frustrating to think that a woman like her is watching me desperately trying to find a husband.)

“You don’t care about me. More importantly, Vivian, as a noble lady from a good family, shouldn’t you avoid going on a demon king castle subjugation?”

“Well, but with Saint’s talent, my father told me to do my best.”

“Hmm.”

(In other words, it’s just a game. It’s nice to be able to play as a saint.)

Lala, who was waiting desperately for a witch scout or a marriage proposal, felt empty.

“But when will Kasdar go on to the next subjugation? Before, Hiira used to urge him to go and conquer it regularly.”

“Vivi doesn’t know either.”

“Ugh. . .I’ll have another drink. I can’t stand it if I don’t drink.”

Lala headed back to the venue where light snacks were served, leaving Vivian behind. As she received champagne from the server and drank it, she noticed Kasdar’s strangely refreshed face and almost vomited.

Their eyes met. The champagne suddenly tasted bad.

“Stop it already.”

“It was perfect.”

“You’re the worst. . .by the way, when are you going to the demon king castle next? Since the embarrassing retreat last time, you’ve been hanging around at social events here.”

“Don’t rush me. I’ve already reached the demon king’s throne room and injured him, so my career is decent. Let’s take it easy until Vivian gets used to combat.”

“But. . .”

“Who are you trying to persuade, haa?”

Kasdar looked down at Lala, and his face was instantly dyed with anger. Pierced by his murky green eyes like stagnant algae at the bottom of a river, Lala froze instinctively in fear.

“. . .I’m sorry. My bad.”

“If you’re going to talk back to my orders, I can send you back to the countryside.”

“I’m really sorry. . .I said too much. Please forgive me.”

Kasdar spat on Lala’s chest and then suddenly put on a smiling mask.

With that smile, he walked towards the young ladies, and they showed restless movements.

“Scum. . .”

Wiping off the spit on her chest, Lala’s eyes became hot with embarrassment.

She couldn’t stand being made to cry by such a man, so she took another glass of champagne and drank it all.

(But today, I’m glad it wasn’t “her” who was spat on.)

The night grows late.

Chapter 23: Witch and Ninja Lunchtime

“Ei~!”

“That’s it! That’s perfect!”

“Kas, Kasdar-sama~!!!”

Kasdar and Vivian were practicing the activation of saint abilities against a rabbit-like demon beast in a forest surrounding the Demon King’s castle, near a carriage stop that was particularly safe.

It was a relatively easy practice to activate the saint ability to confine the rabbit-like demon beast in a barrier.

Since the Demon King’s castle conquest was not going well, Lala finally suggested training Vivian from scratch.

“You’re saying something good for once, Lala.”

Kasdar seemed enthusiastic about it, so there was some hope, but in the end, Kasdar and Vivian started playing and fooling around during breaks, and only practiced for a few minutes at a time. It was a repeating cycle.

Even when Lala tried to give them lessons,

“I won’t leave it to a rough woman like you.”

She was rejected, which was a problem.

Lala and Synovidos sat on a tree stump and watched the two of them absentmindedly. They were told not to interfere, so there was nothing they could do.

“How meaningless.”

“Indeed, it is meaningless.”

There was nothing to enjoy except for chasing butterflies with their eyes.

The sun rose high in the sky, and adventurers who had been hunting nearby began to spread out their lunch boxes with a smile.

A delicious smell wafted through the air, stimulating Lala’s nose involuntarily.

“It’s delicious again today! There’s a croquette stuffed with gratin sandwiched between bread!”

“This is a hamburger made with mixed ground meat! I don’t understand why there’s pasta underneath, but it’s also sweet and delicious!”

“Saints-san said that the pasta is there to absorb the excess moisture from the hamburger! That’s why it’s still delicious even when it’s cold, and the meat juice doesn’t go to waste!”

“I see! Saints-san is amazing!”

“It’s delicious!!”

Gyuuuuu.

“Lala-dono, are you hungry?”

“I’m fine! I’m on a diet, so leave me alone!”

“I don’t think Lala-dono is gaining weight, though. Well then, I’ll have lunch without hesitation.”

Synovidos opened a scarf with strange swirling patterns on a green field and took out a bento box from it.

The moment Lala looked inside, she swallowed a scream.

“. . .What is this, an amazing bento box.”

“Hiira-dono made this bento box. She gave it to me this morning.”

“Hiira made it?! Why would she make something like that, and why would you take it?”

“She has a cafeteria near the carriage stop. I received it there.”

“. . .So that cafeteria was Hiira’s shop after all.”

“There aren’t many brave saints who open diners on the side of the Demon King’s Forest, except for Hiira-dono.”

“That girl is fearless.”

Lala muttered as she looked at Synovidos’ bento box.

Between the crispy bread, a hamburger was tightly crushed. The exquisite flavor of the meat juice and sauce soaked into the inside of the bread, and the fresh leafy vegetables were so dazzling that you could imagine the texture just by looking at them. The fragrant and crispy smell was so strong that it didn’t seem like a cold sandwich, and the crispy bacon and sunny-side-up egg on top of the potato salad in the same package looked delicious too.

“Would you like to eat?”

“Eek!! No, I don’t want to take someone else’s food!”

Lala turned away, swallowing the saliva overflowing in her mouth.

“Are you really sure?”

“You’re so persistent!!”

“Well then, I’ll help myself.”

Chomp. Crunch, crunch, crunch. Chomp, munch, munch. . .

Gruuu.

“Lala-dono.”

“I-I said it’s fine. . .and you’re eating it already!”

“No, not this.”

Synovidos took out a paper bag that was about one size smaller than his lunch box and handed it to Lala.

“I was entrusted with this by Hiira-dono. If Lala-dono is interested in the lunch box, please pass it on quietly.”

“Eh. . .”

When she timidly peeked inside, she found a rolled-up vegetable and fish fry sandwich made with thinly baked dough-like paper.

“. . .Is this a salad crepe. . .or something?”

“It seems to be seasoned only with herb salt, so Lala-dono might be able to eat it without worrying about her diet.”

“Well, I guess there’s no helping it. If that child says it’s for my sake. . .”

Lala took out a salad crepe from the paper bag and gently put it in her mouth.

Crunch.

The texture of the fresh vegetables with different levels of crunchiness. The crispy white fish was a perfect accent, making it satisfying to eat even with a light taste.

“. . .It’s delicious. . .”

Chapter 24: Lala’s true feelings, Synovidos’ true feelings

“Is that so! Well, that’s good to hear.”

Before she knew it, Lala was so engrossed in eating her salad crepe that she couldn’t even speak. Synovidos was next to her, finishing his bento box.

Eating a delicious lunch to your heart’s content in the beautiful forest on a sunny day was pure bliss.

After finishing her meal, Lala came back to her senses and turned to Synovidos, feeling her face getting hot.

“It was delicious. . .please tell Hiira thank you.”

Then Synovidos spoke in a tone that sounded like he was admonishing her.

“That is something Lala-dono should say personally.”

“Ugh. . .!”

Her chest hurt sharply.

It was extremely humiliating to be told something so reasonable by someone wearing a ridiculous mask. However, what he was saying was the right thing to do as a matter of etiquette and common sense.

“I don’t have a face to face that girl.”

“It’s okay. Hiira-dono surely understands why Lala-dono supported the expulsion.”

“Synovidos. . .”

As if bouncing off his face, Lala looked at Synovidos, who was staring at her with an inscrutable mask. The eerie mask was expressionless. But she could tell from his warm gaze that he was looking at her with regret.

(Is Synovidos trying to create an opportunity for me to apologize to that girl. . .?)

In every way, Synovidos was better and more mature than her. It was frustrating, but it was true.

“You’re quite a good man, aren’t you?”

“I’m not that great. I just want to make Hiira-dono happy.”

“Do you not think I’m a good woman too?”

Even though she tried to provoke him, Synovidos didn’t change his expression, just like his mask.

“Lala-dono’s beauty and talent are dazzling. However, no matter how many other wonderful women there are, I am devoted to Hiira-dono.”

“. . .You really liked her that much?”

“. . .Well. . .um. . .”

Fidget.

Synovidos began drawing circles in the dirt, completely losing the cool demeanor he had just moments ago.

“I-I like her. . .because. . .it’s my first love. . .”

“First love?”

He said it so calmly that it made her feel embarrassed.

Lala couldn’t help but feel envious of Hiira, who was loved with such sincere affection. No matter how much people praised her for being pretty and fawned over her, there was nothing more luxurious than being cherished by someone so honestly and wholeheartedly.

But Hiira was a child who was worthy of receiving such affection.

(She was loved just as she was, without anything to offer, unlike me.)

“Hmph. That’s right. I know that good men don’t look at someone like me.”

“. . .As for me, I’m worried that Lala-dono is in danger.”

“What?”

Surprised by his unexpected words, Lala blinked her mascara-covered eyes.

“What do you mean?”

“Lala-dono, believe in your own charm and take care of yourself. . .I am devoted to Hiira-dono, but Lala-dono is also an important comrade. I hope you will be happy too.”

“. . .I’ve never been told that before.”

Lala couldn’t stand it and turned her face away, blushing.

There were many people who spoke kind words to Lala with ulterior motives. She had been picked fights with for being a cheeky girl. Even at home, she was only seen as a tool.

So when someone told her to take care of herself, her heart felt warm.

“B-but wait. You.”

Lala changed the subject by brushing her hair back to hide her embarrassment.

“Have you ever directly confessed your passionate feelings to Hiira?”

“No way~ I can’t just say my feelings like that~”

Synovidos’ attitude, which had been mature and encouraging, suddenly changed. He fidgeted with his fingers and spoke in a faltering voice.

Lala shrugged in exasperation.

“If you like her that much, just tell her already. Before she gets taken by a useless guy like Kasdar.”

“. . .I know that. . .”

As he murmured while looking into the distance, his voice seemed to be filled with an indescribable and bottomless sense of helplessness.

“I also wish for your happiness. Get along well with Hiira.”

“Ow! Don’t hit me out of nowhere like that~.”

――In a place where Kasdar wasn’t listening, our afternoon passed peacefully.

Chapter 25: Lala’s Apology

It was around the time when the sky was getting white with the morning sun, just before the opening of the Saint’s cafeteria.

Since early morning, I had been simmering soup in a pot and kneading bread dough using strong flour.

As I absentmindedly kneaded the dough, I felt grateful that I was doing flour-based saint work.

At first, I mainly focused on long-term storage items that would not produce much waste during procurement, but recently, I have been deciding on the menu by buying leftover demon beast meat that adventurers have dealt with or damaged harvests that cannot be given to customers.

My experience in operating bazaars as a saint at the monastery and conducting soup kitchens had also helped me.

“I’m back. I’ve harvested wild plants and taken care of the fields.”

“Thank you! Good work.”

Synovidos, who was a little damp with morning dew, entered the kitchen with a light step.

“Wow, you have a lot of wild plants.”

I was happy to see the wild plants that Synovidos had brought in his arms. There are many herbs and medicinal plants growing naturally in the demon beast forest, so it’s great to be able to use them abundantly. Synovidos is amazing because he knows where everything grows in the demon beast forest.

“Are we having soup and bread today?”

“Let’s keep it simple. Since we have a lot of wild plants and plenty of root vegetables in stock, I thought I’d make a warm vegetable soup by mixing wheat flour thinly and making it thick and creamy.”

“Oh, that’s a great idea.”

“I think a soup made by simmering the meat of the beast Minota cow until it falls apart, a miso soup made with fish broth, and a white sauce would be good. For bread, let’s have two types: regular bread and rosemary bread.”

Synovidos listened to me with a smile on his face.

To be honest, soup dishes are my specialty.

During my time at the monastery, it was a challenge to make delicious meals with limited ingredients, and during the period when we couldn’t eat meat due to religious reasons, I served vegetable soup to the believers every day.

I miss that beautiful church under the blue sky. I want to go there again someday.

Suddenly, an image of traveling with Synovidos and Demon King-sama came to my mind.

Fufu. I wonder if the three of us can ride on Black Dragon-san’s back. Since we’re at it, I want Black Dragon-san to take on a human form and ride the train(?) with us.

――That’s what I was thinking at that time.

As I was thinking about that, the shop’s chime rang. It was still before opening hours.

“Is the owner here?”

It was a slightly muffled, bell-like voice of a woman.

“I’m sorry. We’re still preparing. . .”

As I wiped my hands with an apron and headed to the entrance, there was an unexpected person there.

“. . .Lala-san?”

“Long time no see.”

Lala-san, who was wearing her usual revealing black witch dress over a coat, looked different enough to be mistaken for someone else. Her defiant face was much paler than I remembered. The dark circles under her eyes were also prominent.

“I came to talk to you for a bit. Do you have time?”

“Um, well. . .if you’re asking if I have it, then no, I don’t.”

There was a mountain of things to do. However, I couldn’t ignore Lala-san, who suddenly visited with a serious expression.

Lala-san bit her lip tightly.

“Well, it’s natural to be like that if you come suddenly. I’ll come back later.”

“Oh, no, um. . .”

As I was flustered, Synovidos came over to us.

“Hiira-dono. Please leave the soup pot and bread preparation to me. I learned from Hiira-dono, so I can help a little.”

“Thank you.”

I guided Lala-san to the guest room on the second floor and prepared tea for two.

The rosemary-scented tea replaced the smell in the room.

“It’s a room that suits you.”

Lala-san took off her coat and sat on a chair, looking around and murmuring.

I sat on the chair in front of her with the tea set.

“Is there something wrong, Lala-san?”

“Hiira. The other day, you gave Synovidos lunch, right?”

“I’m glad he received it!”

“It was delicious. Really. . .I still love your cooking.”

I had heard that Synovidos had joined the Kasdar Party, so I had prepared lunch for Lala-san along with his bento. I had heard it from Synovidos when he returned, but it made me very happy to hear directly that it was delicious.

“I’m glad~! The key was to season the fish a little stronger so that when you chew it with the other vegetables, it creates a nice flavor. I was worried that I might have packed it too much, but since Lala-san likes tomatoes, I definitely wanted to include them.”

While I was happy, Lala-san looked like she was in pain, with a furrowed brow.

“Hiira. Listen.”

Taking plenty of time, Lala-san began to speak as if squeezing the words out.

“. . .I want to apologize to you.”

And Lala-san bowed deeply, almost touching the table.

“E-Eh?!”

“I’m sorry, Hiira. I was so rude to you.”

“Lala-san. . .”

“I kept complaining about the wheat flour dishes that you made by cutting back your saint abilities, considering the taste and nutrition. . .But the truth is, I gained weight because I snacked on sweets and drank wine before going to bed. I know I can’t ask for forgiveness, but I just wanted to apologize.”

“L-Lala-san, I’m not angry. Please raise your head.”

Lala-san slowly raised her head and looked down with a face that seemed about to cry.

“I did something that deserved your anger. You should be angry. Especially at the end, I practically expelled you while hitting you with a cane in a fit of anger.”

“I’m not angry. Really. Um. . .”

――Hiira carefully chose her words in her head.

“I’m not really angry at Lala-san. When I was expelled, she was deliberately acting hysterical and waving her cane around to prevent Kasdar from raising his hand, right?”

Chapter 26: If you are the one, please take care of me as soon as possible

Lala-san blushed and fidgeted with her hair, avoiding eye contact.

“That’s not true. It was just a tantrum.”

I inwardly chuckled at Lala-san’s denial. She was somewhat fastidious and stubborn.

“You always intervened and protected me when I was about to be hit by Kasdar, didn’t you?”

“It was just a coincidence.”

“. . .It’s because you ate the food Kasdar left behind, saying it was a waste, that you gained weight and ate more at night, right?”

Lala-san opened her eyes in surprise.

“You noticed?”

“Yes, actually.”

I nodded.

“That’s why I reduced the amount of food and made it less flavorful for you, Lala-san. But adjusting the nutritional value was still difficult. I’m sorry.”

“D-Don’t apologize! I’m also a poor country girl, so I just don’t like wasting food. It’s not for your sake, it’s just my own selfishness.”

Lala-san dramatically crossed her arms and turned away. Her cheeks were red. I liked Lala-san’s personality of never saying “I did it for you.”

“Lala-san, you’re kind, you know that?”

“Huh?”

“To be honest, when you and Synovidos agreed to my expulsion, it was a little hard for me. But now I understand. . .you pushed me away strictly to help me separate from Kasdar.”

And now, there’s one more thing I understand.

After leaving me at the carriage stop, Demon King-sama came to rescue me soon after, thanks to Synovidos’ consideration. Synovidos had somehow arranged for Demon King-sama to take care of me after my expulsion.

ーーI was always protected by Lala-san and Synovidos.

“I was always saved, so. . .that’s why I didn’t mind even if Lala-san took it out on me a little. It’s just that it made me feel uncomfortable.”

“Hmph, that’s why you always get treated so well! Enough already!”

Lala-san let out a deep sigh and then looked down at her tea.

“Lala-san.”

“. . .What?”

“Thank you very much.”

“I came to apologize. I don’t remember anything worth being thankful for.”

“Then forget about the thank you. I’ll use a different word.”

I tightly held Lala-san’s hand, which looked awkwardly at me.

“Please come and eat a lot again from now on. And if I have any trouble, can I rely on you?”

“Hiira. . .”

Lala-san blushed her tired cheeks and smiled confidently like she used to.

“Of course. Come and eat as much as you want. Be prepared.”

ーーー

After enjoying tea together for a while, Lala-san stood up.

“Thank you for the meal. I should be going now.”

“You’re going to meet Kasdar now, right?”

“Well, yeah. I’m honestly tired of it, but I have nowhere else to go.”

Lala-san thought that, unlike me, she was a Baron’s daughter with a place to go. She was also a talented witch who graduated from the magic school in the top three.

To my surprise, as she descended the stairs, Lala-san revealed something shocking to me.

“If the party disbands, I’m destined to become a noble old man’s second wife.”

“S-Second wife?”

“Yeah. That’s why I’m clinging to the Kasdar Party and have to find my next place while there’s still glory.”

“That’s tough. . .”

“Hmph, it’s the path I chose, so I have no choice but to do it.”

Lala-san descended the stairs with a thud and turned to me with a smile.

The magic support accessories on her hair and body sparkled.

“I’ll carve out my own destiny. I won’t lose to Kasdar. I’ll find my own place like Hiira. Watch me.”

“Yes!!”

Synovidos welcomed us happily as we descended to the first floor together.

There, Lala-san stopped and looked at me.

“By the way, Hiira. What about you and Synovidos?”

“What do you mean?”

I look at Synovidos. There is no movement from Synovidos. If there is no movement, I have no idea what kind of face is behind the mask.

Pointing to the motionless Synovidos with her thumb, Lala-san said.

“Just get together with this guy already.”

“Eeeeeh?! We don’t have that kind of relationship.”

“You mean you’re not interested in him?”

Lala-san is always pushy, and I’m happy about it, but I’m at a loss for words at her question.

“. . .That’s because I’ve always been Kasdar’s fiancée, so I never really thought about it. Um, yeah.”

“So, you’re saying there’s a chance.”

“Eh, well, but someone like me is not someone to be interested in, right?!”

“D-Don’t reject me, milady~!!”

Synovidos covered his cheeks and ran away.

Lala-san looked at Synovidos and then smiled and murmured to me.

“. . .You two really look alike.”

The air between us is soft.

The scent of freshly baked rosemary bread wafted through the air.

Chapter 27: Just below Kasdar’s sudden turn ※Slightly

Kasdar Streltsy is the son of Count Streltsy. The Streltsy family is a family that has left their family name in the political arena for generations as civil servants, despite having only a small territory in the countryside, which is in the middle of the Count’s rank.

The inheritance of the family headship goes to the eldest son, Teimayoş Streltsy.

Kasdar is followed by his younger sister, Augury Streltsy.

Despite being only 12 years old, Augury has already married a wealthy Count as a second wife at her mother’s strong recommendation. Noble families consider the continuation of their family name to be the most important, and treat unmarried daughters as tools for marriage proposals. The Streltsy family has a more prominent family style in this regard, and Kasdar also had a tendency to see women as pawns in his daily life.

If one is a clever “gentleman,” they may think of women as pawns in their head, but they do not show it and instead treat them with respect to increase their own value and reputation. However, Kasdar had no qualms about treating women as nothing more than doormats, and even thought they were worth less than the mud on his shoes.

Kasdar was now pale as he looked down at the notice that had been delivered to the townhouse in the capital. The hand holding the letter was trembling.

In front of him, Teimayoş was looking at him with a cold gaze from his desk.

[To Count Streltsy’s son, Kasdar

Due to doubts raised about your contribution to damaging the Demon King, the captain of the Imperial Guard Knights has decided to impose certain conditions on your acceptance into the team next season. Approval for next season’s admission will require the submission of a magic crest that exceeds the Demon King’s injury, either in the current Kasdar Streltsy unit or in a new unit formed without a silver-class saint. If there is no presentation of achievements by magic crest within this fiscal year, admission to the Imperial Guard Knights will not be possible.

Recruitment Department of the Imperial Guard Knights.]

“What does this mean?”

“You need to start over with your writing practice, you idiot brother.”

My older brother said coldly. Kasdar persisted.

“What’s going on? I was definitely granted admission to the Knights next spring by the commander of the Imperial Guard Knights himself. I have a certificate! Normally, admission outside of the entrance exam is not revoked.”

“I’m the one who wants to know. Why is something abnormal happening in reality?”

His brother’s absolute zero gaze pierced Kasdar. The gaze of the future head of the family, who seemed to freeze, left no room for Kasdar to argue.

“If you can’t join the Imperial Guard Knights, you’ll work as a governor in the Streltsy territory.”

“That’s ridiculous.”

It was no joke. If he ended up as a governor in a boring territory with no excitement, glory, or women, Kasdar would end his life as just a cog in the Streltsy family, unable to become anything else for the rest of his life.

It would be a life that was useless, even with a splendid appearance and military achievements, melting away like a soup that had been boiled too long in the countryside.

“I don’t want to.”

“It’s a strict order from Father. There’s nothing more to talk about. Leave.”

Expelled from the office, Kasdar walked aimlessly down the hallway in a daze. Seeing him, the servants froze in fear.

As he passed by an elderly maid, their eyes met, and Kasdar snapped, punching the wall right next to her head.

“Eek. . .”

“What’s wrong with you, old hag? Don’t you like me or something? Say something.”

“I-I’m terribly sorry if I’ve done something wrong. It’s my fault if I’m inadequate.”

“You’re kidding me. Do you think an apology will fix everything?”

Kasdar grabbed the maid’s collar and roughly pushed her aside before storming off. There was a loud noise behind him as the maid fell to the ground. He went out to the garden, trying to shake off everything, and looked up at the sky in a terrible mood.

“Damn it, nothing is going well. . .”

“What’s wrong, Kasdar-sama?”

As a sweet voice overlapped, he turned around to see Vivian, with her silver short bob hair fluttering softly against the backdrop of a well-manicured flower bed.

He was sure he didn’t call her today. Kasdar widened his eyes.

“Why are you here?”

“Fufu. I went to see Kasdar-sama’s father. . .”

“!! That means. . .you know about my situation.”

“Yes. It’s really tough. I’m sorry. . .It’s all my fault.”

Vivian shed tears from her big eyes and covered her face with her small hands, shaking her shoulders.

“I’m sorry, Kasdar-sama. I’m not needed, am I? Goodbye.”

“Wait!”

Vivian grabbed his shoulder reflexively, causing her body to tremble and her eyes to become moist as she looked at Kasdar. Her body, which couldn’t hide the deep cleavage of her chest no matter what clothes she wore, had plump, sweet-colored lips. When he was stared at with eyes that seemed to break at any moment, Kasdar felt his rough impulses subside.

“I won’t let go of Vivian. You can be yourself.”

“Kasdar-sama. . .I’m happy ♡.”

She always smiled and shrugged her small shoulders, looking cute.

Whenever he was with Vivian, he felt that way. No matter how bad he was at fighting or how dull he was, everything became irrelevant when he was stared at with her moist eyes.

It was completely different from that stick-like girl, Hiira, who had become so frustrated with every move just before being expelled.

However, if things continued like this, the defeat of the Demon King would be inevitable. If he didn’t come up with a plan, Kasdar would lose everything and fall into ruin.

He had to do something. He had to find a way to secure a convenient existence like Hiira Seamacy again.

――At that moment.

Suddenly, a certain idea flashed through Kasdar’s mind like a lightning bolt.

Kasdar’s mouth curled up at his own brilliant idea.

“Haha. That’s it. This is how we’ll do it.”

Chapter 28: Various lives, various saints

Morning.

The Onee-san staff who came to work from Maytart Village looked around restlessly.

“Good morning, Saint-chan. Where’s Synovidos-san?”

“Good morning. He had some business from the morning, so he left after helping me with the preparations.”

“I see. . .”

The Onee-sans exchanged glances and grinned at me.

“Eh, what, what kind of face is that?”

While enjoying watching me panic, they quickly prepared for work.

“You’re living together with him, aren’t you?”

“Eh?! Ah, well, that’s true, but. . .”

“You’re close, but he’s your boyfriend, right?”

“No, that’s not it! We’ve been indebted to each other since the time of the original Demon King subjugation party, that’s all.”

“Sure, sure♪ Well then, let’s get to work.”

“Let’s do our best today too, Saint-chan.”

While laughing at my panic, they entered work mode without digging any deeper.

“U-um, I feel like I’m being misunderstood. . .”

Left alone, I slapped my cheeks to cool them down and rolled up my sleeves before standing in the kitchen.

“A-Anyway! Let’s do our best today!”

――That’s how I enjoy working with the Onee-san staff of Maytart Village even when Synovidos is not around.

After the peak of lunchtime, I had a meal with the Onee-san staff of Maytart Village and enjoyed the staff meal together.

Today’s staff meal was bread, salad, and cold potato soup!

The dessert I prepared is a prototype of a baked good called [Nun’s Tongue], which I learned during my time at the monastery. It feels like a cookie, but it’s a little different because I use flat beer when kneading the dough and spread it on the surface of the dough when baking without kneading in sugar.

I kneaded the dough last night and just baked it in the oven.

Since I’m using my wheat flour as a saint, it feels like [Saint’s Tongue].

“It’s crispy and delicious.”

“Hehe. . .I received some beer from the master of the rest area, so I made it.”

A relaxing moment after lunch.

At times like this, I’m often asked casually about being a saint by everyone.

For people who are not church officials or members of a subjugation party, it seems that saints are quite mysterious.

“Is it okay to touch the halo?”

“Well, it’s a sensitive area because there are nerves. So it’s okay to touch it myself, but if someone else touches it, I flinch.”

“Oh, I see. Even though it’s such a delicate area, it must be tough for Saint-chan to have such a big one.”

“Hey, hey, isn’t it hard to move around in your saint’s formal wear?”

“It’s difficult to move around!”

“Hahaha, I see. It’s all white, but how do you wash it?”

“For the collar and cuffs, most people use saint abilities to protect them from getting dirty~.”

“Oh, I see. . .saint abilities are so convenient.”

When I share Saint trivia like this, everyone listens with admiration and says “Oh, I see.” Since the church wants to hide the mystique of the Saints, it’s often the first time people hear about it.

“By the way, I heard it at the bar where I used to work.”

It was Lulria-san, a former barmaid, who started the conversation.

“Is it true that there are men who can use [Saint abilities]? Then why are only women called Saints?”

“Oh, that’s a good question.”

I answered while drinking tea.

“Men who can use [Saint abilities] usually don’t become professional Saints and instead advance in their careers.”

That’s right.

There are no male Saints.

However, there are men who can use [Saint abilities] (although they are fewer than women).

“[Saint abilities] are a type of ability called [beloved by the earth]. It’s easier to connect with the power of the earth, and gender doesn’t matter. It is said that there are occasionally male priests in the church who can use it.”

It was an interesting topic, and everyone leaned forward to listen.

“It is said that there are occasionally male priests who can use it. . .but can’t you tell by the halo above their heads?”

“Since everyone is wearing hats, we can’t tell if there’s a halo inside or not.”

I hid my halo in the scarf wrapped around my head. It popped out from the edge and went back up to my head with a “pyu.” It was a failure.

“Hehe. . .well, if it’s a halo with a size and presence that’s hard to hide like mine, then it’s easy to hide with a hat for most people. Some women even use it as a base for their chignon if they want to hide their saint status.”

“But why bother hiding it? As a priest with the ability of [beloved by the earth], wouldn’t you want to show it off?”

“Unlike [saint], we’re not using it directly for our work, so most people hide it considering various influences on those around them.”

“Influences on those around them?”

“Well, let’s say during the recommendation of the Archbishop, there’s a [saint] from the Baron family and a commoner from the Duke family. . .it would become quite complicated.”

As I hesitated with my words, everyone made a subtle expression.

“Ah. . .even priests are just humans with flaws.”

“After all, we’re all just humans.”

“Hahaha. . .even male [saints] don’t stand out much because of those reasons, just like politicians who hide things.”

With that, the meal ended and the staff of Maytart Village cleaned up and left.

As I saw them off and took a break, I heard a voice from afar saying, “Hey.” It was a woman’s voice.

“Yes!”

It was the usual female adventurer party who came over.

Perhaps because they just finished their job, there was a strong smell of beasts. Their refreshed expressions after finishing their work added to their impressive coolness.

They looked at me and their expressions softened.

“Hey, Saint-chan, good work today too.”

The one who raised her hand and said that was Margarette-san, the leader with scars and a muscular, red-brown berry short hair.

“Good work!”

“Hey, Saint-chan, are you alone today? Where’s that gloomy guy in black?”

“Hahaha. . .Synovidos has something to do today. . .”

Well, I guess I’ll be asked about it again here.

“Oh, by the way.”

I quickly changed the subject.

“That big magic cooler, it looks heavy. What is it for?”

“This is a souvenir for Saint-chan.”

Margarette-san winked.

“I have something I want to give you. Can I go to the dining room?”

“Of course. Please, go ahead.”

Chapter 29: Bone Flesh Crushing saint

The Saint cafeteria is protected by a barrier of Saint abilities, so people with ill intentions cannot enter deep inside. Of course, they were able to enter.

The female knights entered and explained their luggage to me, saying “Excuse us.”

“We came today to hunt rare meat for a noble’s request. We’re already preparing to hand over the meat to the noble, but they said they don’t need the leftover bones and fat.”

Margarette-san placed a case on the cafeteria table and opened the lid with a snap.

“T-This is. . .!!!”

The overwhelming smell of flesh and beast filled the air, and bones and fat were tightly packed together.

“This is amazing. . .If you simmer it, you can make a delicious soup.”

“If Saint-chan is here, I’ll give it to you. How about it?”

“Is that okay?! How much is it?”

“The client said they didn’t need it, so I was thinking of selling it, but I wanted to give it to Saint-chan since you’re here.”

“Of course, I don’t need money. I brought it because I wanted you to have it.”

Strolette-san with black hair in a ponytail said with a smile. Namisane-san with his quiet curly hair next to her nodded in agreement.

“Since we started eating Saint-chan’s food, our stamina has improved significantly. Our injuries heal faster, and we no longer get bitten by strange bugs.”

“I don’t use my Saint ability on every dish, but I hope it has some effect like a charm. If it works, that’s great.”

“Adventurers need their bodies to survive, so it’s really helpful. Please accept it as a token of my gratitude.”

“Thank you very much. . .I’ll use it carefully! I’ll wash the case and return it, so please enjoy some herbal tea while you wait!”

“I feel bad for making you go through the trouble. But Saint-chan’s tea is delicious, so I’ll gratefully accept it.”

I lightly warmed up the [Saint’s tongue] I had made earlier and served it with black tea.

Meanwhile, I washed the case carefully and returned it.

“Thank you for the meal, Saint-chan!”

“We’ll come again~!”

They left to catch the last shared carriage.

“Thank you very much! Take care!”

I saw them off until their dazzling figures disappeared in the sunset, then returned to the kitchen.

There was a pile of bones, meat, and fat on the workbench, all of it prepared for bloodletting.

“This is going to be a lot of work.”

Actually, during my time at the monastery, I often received discarded bones and meat from animals and made soup by simmering them. Although the smell was strong, the soup was packed with nutrients and flavor that worked wonders on a tired body from physical labor.

I quickly lined up the bones on the cutting board and brought a cooking hammer.

“Haaaaa!!!”

Bang! Bang! Bang!

I swung the bone with all my might and broke it! Swing and break! Break it!!!

The marrow inside the bone brings out the flavor. But I couldn’t break it well with my arm strength.

“H-huh. . .I should have asked for help to break it.”

I continued to work with single-minded devotion, sweating profusely.

At that moment.

“I’m home~!! The smell of beasts is amazing.”

“S-Synovidos. Welcome back.”

When I turned around, Synovidos froze.

Blood-stained hands and apron. Blood-stained hammer. A lump of bones on the workbench that had become something incredible.

“Hiira-dono, th-that is, finally. . .”

“Oh, this? I was thinking of making soup by boiling the bones. I got them from the usual female adventurer party.”

“A-Ah~~~~!! Beast, these are beast bones!! I was just confirming Kasdar-dono’s whereabouts. . .I was surprised.”

“Kasdar? Why?”

“Well, Hiira-dono would never do such a thing. If anyone were to do it, it would be Lala-dono or me first. . .Excuse me.”

Synovidos came muttering something.

When I told him about my work, he said,

“Then let me do it. A man’s hand would be better.”

He rolled up his sleeves and helped me.

Chapter 30: Come to think of it, he is a man. . .

“Thank you, you’re a lifesaver.”

Synovidos took the hammer and swung it down with all his might, and the bones that I couldn’t break no matter how hard I tried were cracking and breaking one after another.

“Wow. . .you’re amazing, you’re really strong for a man.”

Even with Synovidos’ slender build, he was much stronger than me when he rolled up his black robe and swung the hammer.

Seeing me applaud, Synovidos made a shy gesture.

“Well, the size of my hands and my arm strength are completely different.”

I took Synovidos’ free left hand and compared the size of our hands.

“Wow, they’re really big after all.”

His long, knobby fingers were more than two sizes larger than mine even when our palms were overlapped. Even when I spread my fingers as wide as possible, my fingertips barely reached the second joint of his fingers. When our hands were overlapped like this, the color and shape of our skin, and even the hardness were completely different. Men are amazing.

As I was comparing the size of our hands, Synovidos made a perplexed voice.

“Hiira-dono, I can’t work like this.”

“Oh, sorry.”

Suddenly, I felt like Synovidos’ slightly exposed neck was turning red. I realized that I had forgotten that we were always together like a family and had become too familiar and clingy. Synovidos is a man after all.

“I-I’m sorry. . .”

“N-No, it’s okay, it’s my fault. . .”

After that, I kept a safe distance and worked alongside him, breaking small bones and preparing for bloodletting in a large pot.

I couldn’t help but feel nervous about the muscular arms below the rolled-up black outfit. I thought the shape of his arm was beautiful when he swung and hit.

“. . ..”

“. . ..”

The room was filled with the sound of bones being chopped, and both Synovidos and I were silent. Normally, we could chat endlessly, but for some reason, nothing came to mind. My face felt hot, just like when I was in front of the oven. Maybe it was also because of the heat.

I put the bones in the pot and prepared to remove the scum.

While I was working, Synovidos washed the tools with a clatter.

“. . .We’re done. Thank you.”

“N-No. . .I’m glad I could help. . .”

I felt like our voices were trembling.

Awkwardly, I suddenly remembered.

“Ah, Synovidos!! Dinner tomorrow!!! Do you want to eat dinner?!”

“O-Okay!! I’ll just ventilate the room a bit with my wind technique! Byaaah!”

“Yeah, byaaah! Please!”

Synovidos disappeared like the wind. I went to the kitchen and drank some water from a glass.

“. . .What’s wrong with me? Am I tired?”

Thanks to Synovidos, a pleasant breeze blew from the dining terrace to the kitchen. I watched my halo sway gently in the wind, a little away from my head.

It had been a while since I didn’t feel scared of someone I perceived as a man.

Of course, I had been subjected to Kasdar’s violent treatment on a daily basis, and since joining the subjugation party and visiting the Demon King’s castle, I had often felt my body tense up at the roughness of the adventurers I encountered.

Of course, I know that there are many kind and reliable people out there. I know that people like Kasdar are a minority.

However, whenever I recognize a man as “oh, this person is a man,” I can’t help but feel a little scared.

So when I became aware of Synovidos’ physical strength and the size of his hands――I should have been scared if I were my usual self.

The wind feels pleasant. I drank two cups of water. Yet, this strange sensation of heat won’t go away.

“. . .What kind of face should I make to get through tonight?”

As I muttered to myself, footsteps approached.

I hurriedly came to my senses and started cooking dinner by opening the magic refrigerator.

――Then, I decided to simmer the beast orc bones soup overnight. The next morning, I planned to make noodles that would go well with the soup in the kitchen, which was filled with the choking smell of the beast orc bones soup.

“Tomorrow is going to be something else. . .”

Before going to bed, I talked to the halo on my bed, unaware of what was to come.

I never imagined that the next day, he would come to the saint’s cafeteria, which was filled with the choking smell of the beast orc bones soup.

Chapter 31: Former fiancée Kasdar attacks (with the choking smell of beast oak bone soup noodles)

As expected, the Saint cafeteria was filled with the smell of beast orc bone soup from the morning. Synovidos and I tasted the soup together in the morning and looked at each other in surprise.

“It’s delicious!”

“It definitely smells like we’ve been eating beast orc all over our bodies, but it’s delicious.”

“This is an event. . .We need to make noodles right away.”

“Agreed. Leave the takeout service to me and the staff.”

“Thank you!”

Adventurers who came to get takeout in the morning were all amazed by the smell of the beast orc bone soup, but the lunchtime was packed with people who were curious and wanted to try something scary.

By the way, today’s takeout was a baguette sandwich with beast orc meat and salad in between.

However, some customers were so shocked by the smell that they even visited the cafeteria for lunch, even though they had already taken out their food.

“Oh, today is the beast orc bone soup pasta festival.”

Beast orc bone soup pasta.

The pasta made from wheat flour specially sifted out by the Saint’s ability is a thick noodle that is easy to mix with the soup. It is a special dish with plenty of green onions, bean sprouts, and grilled beast orc meat on top of the soup with plenty of fat.

However, the noodles may be better if they are thin. Although it is delicious, the time it takes to cook is a bit of a concern. If you slurp up the noodles like drinking, you may be able to enjoy them without them stretching. It’s a research topic for the future.

“I never thought that the Saint’s anti-evil power would make the smell of beast orc bone soup only linger around the cafeteria.”

“Thanks to the smell, it won’t affect the downwind stable, and there won’t be any complaints from the nobles who are going to defeat the Demon King’s castle. It won’t stimulate the beasts in the demon beast forest, so it’s all good in the end.”

If the customers were nobles or elegant people, we would need more measures against the smell, but the adventurers who live a hearty life by bathing in the blood and flesh of demon beasts are used to it.

The rich and creamy white soup pasta works wonders on their bodies that have sweated from physical labor.

“Saint-chan, this is so delicious! My whole body smells like an orc, though.”

“Thank you very much!”

“Saint-chan, can I have another serving of just the pasta in the soup?”

“Sure, I’ll add more pasta for you!”

“Saint-chan, is this a regular menu item?”

“Well, that’s a bit tough! It’s a rare dish!”

Soon after, the female adventurer party who brought us a gift yesterday arrived. They noticed the reason for the smell as soon as they entered the cafeteria and smiled at me.

“Welcome! The soup we made as a trial has received an amazing response!”

“Great job! You made something that looks delicious!”

“Please try it right away!”

“Thank you!”

We served them a mountain of beast orc bone soup pasta on the table. They looked at the soup and the smell curiously, took a sip, and then looked at each other in surprise.

“Wow, I never thought those bones could turn out like this!”

“That’s right! We crushed a lot of bones and simmered them overnight to get this result!”

“Oh, I see~.”

“I received a lot of bones, so I can still make plenty of soup. I’ll make it for a while and adjust the taste and noodle pasta to improve it.”

They looked at my face and smiled happily.

Margarette-san smiled with a dazzling face.

“Saint-chan, you look brighter.”

“Is that so?”

Soutlett-san and Namisane-san also nodded.

“Yeah. When we first got on the carriage, you looked so worried.”

“We were worried about what happened to this child.”

I didn’t know they thought that way about me.

“Saint-chan!”

From the front of the cafeteria, I heard the staff Onee-san calling me. The female adventurers laughed.

“Go ahead, everyone is waiting for Saint-chan.”

“I’m happy that Saint-chan is enjoying cooking.”

“Good luck!”

I bowed my head and headed towards the person who called me. As I walked, my heart was warm and fuzzy.

“I’m sorry to keep you waiting. What’s wrong?”

“Oh, sorry, Saint-chan. A nobleman came by. . .”

The staff Onee-san looked puzzled.

“A nobleman?”

Since the nobleman’s carriage stop was quite far from here, only adventurers come here. Nobles don’t even come here to just look around. Besides, it’s rare for a nobleman to travel alone, even if it’s a man. I wonder what business he has.

“I can’t enter the cafeteria for some reason, so call the saint who is the owner. . .I’m having trouble, even though I’ve told him many times that, he doesn’t seem to listen at all. . .Look, there he is.”

Before entering the entrance of the cafeteria, there was a garden that led to a terrace seat, and on the other side of the garden was a brick wall. Apparently, the nobleman in question was on the other side.

Sure enough, there was a silver-haired man shining beyond the brick wall. He was a nobleman who looked very tall and had a shining silver armor, giving off an air of nobility.

His blue eyes looked at me. At that moment, I accidentally dropped the tray due to his piercing gaze and twisted smile.

Clang.

The warm feeling in my chest suddenly turned cold, and my heart began to beat unpleasantly. My breathing became shallow.

“. . .Kasdar. Why are you here?”

Synovidos was busy cooking in the magic kitchen. It was cruel to make the onee-sans from Maytart Village deal with a nobleman. It would be troublesome if that man started causing a commotion at the entrance.

I took out some baked goods from my apron just in case.

[I, Saint Hiira, who have received the love of the earth, bestow upon you the protection of purification and barrier for this moment.]

I muttered the incantation keyword and ate the baked goods. The special ability of the floured saint enveloped my body and burst out.

I made up my mind and tightly clenched my fist. Then I told the staff Onee-san.

“Please tell Synovidos that Kasdar has come.”

Onee-san nodded and hurried away. I took a deep breath and walked up to him.

I’m scared.

However, now I have to protect the adventurers and staff who are enjoying their meal. He will surely resist until I come out.

“It’s been a while.”

“You’re getting in the way here. Can you move a little further away?”

“Why do I have to move? It’s a simple matter if you just nod your head.”

He still doesn’t listen to others.

His large body that I have to look up to and his familiar gaze that tramples on me are all scary.

“In that case, please make it brief. What do you need me for?”

“Come to my party.”

“What?”

I unintentionally made a strange sound. It was a genuine “What?”

“A saint has already been hired, right? You’re the one who expelled me because I’m a lame saint, aren’t you?”

“. . .Hahaha, you’re kidding me, idiot.”

He looked up at the sky and laughed out loud.

The adventurers around us were watching us with tense expressions.

“I don’t need you as a saint. I’ll hire you as a servant to cook meals.”

Chapter 32: Saint VS Ex-fiancé

At the moment when my arm was about to be pulled strongly,

The halo shone, and a burst of light erupted from my body.

“ーーTch!!”

Kasdar staggered for a moment, then showed his anger with bulging veins on his temple.

“You dared to resist me with your saint ability?!”

“Of course. I’m no longer your saint or your fiancée.”

I held back my trembling voice and spoke in a calm tone.

Even though I was protecting myself with my saint ability, I was still scared.

But if I showed my fear in front of the audience, it would make everyone who came to the shop uneasy.

I straightened my back and cleared my throat.

“Count Streltsy’s son. As the owner of this restaurant, I have a responsibility to ensure the safety and enjoyable dining experience of our staff and customers. If you continue to cause a disturbance, I will take appropriate action. I’m sorry, but please leave.”

“What kind of appropriate action? What can you do?”

“I will report a violation of the saint protection management regulations.”

As soon as I muttered those words, Kasdar flinched.

Huh? Can’t he just crush it with his family’s money and power like he always does?

It might work. I continued with a firm and calm attitude, feeling an unexpected sense of accomplishment.

“Saints are generally managed by the Church’s saint branch as part of the kingdom’s protection management. As you, a nobleman’s son, know, saints who participate in the Demon King subjugation party are [leased] by the state. Do you understand?”

“So what? We’ll just go through the procedures from now on.”

“This is the story so far.”

Saints are bluntly speaking, property of the kingdom.

Kasdar, using his family’s power, forcibly took me out of the monastery and made me his fiancée.

As a church saint branch, it was nothing more than “returning to secular life with mutual consent” under the current regulations. I wish they wouldn’t overlook it.

――However.

“You have subjected me, a silver platinum-ranked saint, to physical and psychological violence on a daily basis, haven’t you?”

DV(Domestic violence) against a saint, who is a property of the state, is definitely not allowed!!!

“I didn’t want to ruin your future as my former fiancé, so I didn’t report you for violating the saint protection management regulations. But.”

It’s a lie!!

I don’t want to remember what happened one by one, the procedure is extremely troublesome, and I know that Kasdar’s family will just buy it off with money, so I haven’t even made any documents. If I had that time, I would want to create a new recipe.

“But if you disturb me, who is quietly living without suing you after being expelled, and those who are involved in this cafeteria, I can sue you anytime in the name of Viscount Seamacy’s daughter, Hiira.”

Yes, this is also a bluff!!

The Seamacy family practically sold me to the church, so even if I sue, I won’t have any reliable backing!

Besides, compared to Kasdar’s family, it’s a family background that would blow away in an instant!

First of all, it’s presumptuous of me to call myself a “Viscount’s daughter” when I have no right to inherit the title!

However.

As a formal complaint to the church, being a [young lady] even as a Viscount works in my favor. If I trace my bloodline, there should be at least one or two distant relatives of mine who are nobles within the church. The blood of nobles comes in handy at times like this.

Kasdar is trembling in front of me. It’s because it’s the first time I haven’t done what he wants.

“Please. For both of our sakes, I don’t want to cause a scene. Can’t you back out?”

I looked straight into his eyes and calmly spoke as if persuading him.

I know that showing a calm attitude with plenty of composure is the most effective for the other person in times like this.

Taking an absolute attitude deprives the other person of the opportunity to think.

If you want to move as you please, just show a face that says “I’ll move as I please.”

――You taught me that, Kasdar.

“. . .They’re all so arrogant.”

Kasdar muttered.

And he raised his fist at me!

I tried to keep a calm face and took a step back!

Bam!

“Ughhhh!!!!”

It’s not me who crouches in pain from the impact, it’s Kasdar.

I knew it when I heard that Kasdar was making a fuss outside the cafeteria. Kasdar is being repelled by the barrier of this cafeteria.

The barrier recognizes Kasdar as “someone who harms Saint Hiira.”

So, I was barely able to avoid it and responded to Kasdar immediately.

“Please, go back.”

“Damn it. . .You’re just a useless flour-like creature of a saint, and yet you’re acting so arrogant. . .!!!!”

At that moment.

Suddenly, the surrounding adventurers stood up. Eh, what?

“Hey, you nobleman, cut it out.”

In front of me, female adventurers――Margarette-san, Soutlett-san, and Namisane-san――quickly formed a wall.

To my surprise, they winked and smiled at me.

One after another, the adventurers began to fight back against Kasdar.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s in the capital or anywhere else. If you lay a hand on Saint-chan in front of adventurers, we won’t show any mercy.”

――Eh.

Chapter 33: Hiira looks like she’s about to blow herself up, and a real hit

Adventurers surrounded Kasdar, as if protecting me with their wide-eyed expressions.

One of them bowed apologetically as he looked at me.

“Saint-chan, sorry. We were stupid to be intimidated just because he’s a noble.”

“Eh. . .”

“. . .We were impressed by Saint-chan’s resolute figure. Even though you’re so small, you stood up for us. We can’t just stay silent.”

“Eh, really?”

“Hey, Kasdar. You’ve always been arrogant towards adventurers. You’ve earned their resentment. You know what will happen if you lay a hand on Saint-chan, right?”

Everyone stood up and protected me with their words.

The Onee-san from the Maytart village staff pulled me back and held my hand. Her eyes were red.

“Saint-chan, thank you. . .We’ll protect you too.”

“Everyone. . .staff-san. . .”

I’m happy, but this is an unexpected situation.

Before I knew it, the adventurers surrounded Kasdar and stared at him with angry eyes.

“You, you guys. . .even though you’re commoners! Do you think you can go against me, a noble?!”

The heat of the moment was already overwhelming Kasdar.

On the contrary, I thought it was bad. If this continues, things will get out of hand.

Conflict between nobles and commoners, especially with adventurers, will definitely become a problem for the adventurers later.

[Tragic! That [genius] Kasdar group brutally attacked! Many adventurers captured! The Flour Saint caught in the midst of confusion!]

I could imagine the extra edition of the gossip article being distributed in the towns and cities.

This is bad. If that happens, this restaurant will be finished.

“W-What should I do. . .”

Do I have no choice but to use the wheat flour explosion trick like before? No, no, even if it explodes, only clothes will be blown away, and it will turn into a wild fighting festival with Mappa’s afro. Ah, the public safety is getting worse. Then, what should I do? Think, Hiira, think. . .!

At this rate, Hiira, you’re just fanning the flames and self-destructing. . .Spare me from a self-destructing saint, even if I’m just a flour saint!

As I was thinking of the next plan, at that moment.

A gust of wind blew through, as if cooling down the strange heat.

Everyone covered their faces with the wind.

The strong smell of beast orc soup enveloped me.

A warm and gentle hand held my shoulder. A jet-black cloak and long black hair fluttered in an arc.

“Hiira-dono. Sorry for being late.”

Beyond the long bangs sliding down the bridge of the nose, deep-set eye sockets were carved.

The golden eyes shone and called my name in a low voice, looking down at me.

I couldn’t speak and just stared with my mouth open.

The people around me all had the same expression, looking up at the man wrapped in a cloak.

“A-ahhh. . .?!??”

Kasdar, who had lost his footing, screamed in a reversed voice.

“Why is the Demon King here of all placesーー!!!!!!”

Demon King.

As soon as Kasdar shouted, the place fell silent as if water had been poured on it.

Only Kasdar and I knew the appearance of Demon King-sama in this place. The adventurers and staff were at a loss for words and were just captivated by Demon King-sama, who held me protectively.

“Kasdar Streltsy.”

Demon King-sama spoke to Kasdar in a low voice.

“You already expelled Hiira and you still plan to use her as your puppet?”

The gaze towards Kasdar was a freezing, icy one.

“As the only and almighty flour saint loved by the earth, I will not forgive anyone who harms Hiira Seamacy. I hope that we can settle this peacefully, so I will overlook your words and actions for today. However, if you ever harm her again. . .”

“. . .Yes.”

“I will turn you to dust before your finger touches her. Definitely.”

Kasdar looked visibly frightened and his gaze wandered.

Finally, he would give up.

I thought to myself and felt relieved, but Kasdar was a more persistent man than I thought.

Kasdar grinned and looked down on the demon king.

“Hah. You have some nerve to say that after I wounded you.”

As expected of Kasdar, he was shameless even towards his opponent who had lost his strength!

Well, it’s not really something to praise him for!

“Hey, Demon King, can I kill you now?”

Kasdar stood up with trembling legs and tried to draw his sword.

However, the lightning strike falling from the sky repelled his sword.

“Ah. . .!!!”

Kasdar held his hand. He must have been burned. As I reflexively tried to jump out, as part of my role as a saint, Demon King-sama put his hand on my shoulder and stopped me with force.

Unable to bear it, I looked up at Demon King-sama.

“Demon King-sama, no matter how much Kasdar. . .!”

“Hiira. . .Have you forgotten?”

At that moment, Demon King-sama’s face twisted in anguish and his eyebrows furrowed deeply.

Before Demon King-sama could speak, Kasdar raised the corners of his mouth and said while holding his hand up.

Before Demon King-sama could speak, Kasdar, holding his hand, grinned and said, “Kukukuku. . .ahahahaha! Same tactics don’t work on you after all!”

Kasdar laughed while sweating profusely. Demon King-sama shook his head.

Then Demon King-sama looked at me.

“Hiira-dono. This guy tried to use the same method that previously injured me.”

His golden eyes trembled with pity.

Chapter 34: Defeating Kasdar, Premonition of a New Enemy

“It’s the same as before. . .”

――The same method as before.

The moment I heard those words.

My side suddenly hurt, as if I was reminded of the pain when I was stabbed before.

“Hiira-dono. . .I will definitely protect you today.”

Demon King-sama wrapped me in his cloak and glared at Kasdar.

“Kasdar Streltsy. Why did you think “that” incident was not recorded in the magic crest when you once injured me?”

Demon King-sama looked down on Kasdar again with a cold gaze.

Kasdar’s impudent face twisted instantly.

“What. . .?”

“For an ordinary priest, the magic crest would only seem to show their achievements. However, for those who can read the ancient magic crest secret techniques. . .”

At that moment, ancient characters shone in front of Kasdar in response to Demon King-sama’s hand movements.

Kasdar was stunned.

“That. . .I didn’t know about that?!”

I remembered when Synovidos became the guarantor of the saint’s cafeteria.

I see. Demon King-sama can also draw the same magic crest.

“Could it be that. . .perhaps the reason why my acceptance into the knight order was revoked was because you wrote unnecessary things?!”

“It’s just that your achievements have revealed the sacrifices made to obtain them.”

“That’s a lie. . .hey. . .”

Kasdar trembled and his mask fell off in an instant.

“Uwaaaaa!!!!”

Kasdar raised his uninjured hand and activated a reckless incantation.

However, Kasdar’s magic, who had no talent for magic, was blown away by a single breath from Demon King-sama.

“A-ahhh.”

It was visible that all of his magic had been depleted.

“Disappear, Kasdar.”

“I won’t disappear just because you told me to. . .!!!!”

At that moment.

“Aahh. Kasdar-sama~ I got bored, so I came~♡.”

A relaxed voice.

The one who walked with a waddle was the new Saint Vivian-san.

“. . .Hmph. . .I told you to wait in the carriage.”

“That’s why I got bored. I’m hungry~.”

Vivian-san sniffed the scent of the beast orc soup.

“It smells delicious~! Vivi wants to eat something too!”

“You idiot, let’s go back!”

“Ehh~.”

“Anyway, hurry up and heal my hand!!!”

“Eek, it’s burnt black.”

“Wait, Kasdar. . .and Vivian-san too.”

I ran to the back and wrapped bread to give to them in an unmanned magic kitchen.

“Hiira.”

Demon King-sama frowned.

The adventurers around us murmured.

“Don’t do anything nice for someone like him, Saint-chan!”

“I don’t understand, he did something terrible to you, right?!”

I looked down at Kasdar, who was still kneeling.

“That’s right. . .and I will never forgive you.”

Just looking at Kasdar’s face covered in sweat from pain made me want to hit him with a hard baguette.

I wanted to cry and scream and make him apologize for everything he had done to me.

But I am a saint.

Saints are the property of the state. And I have pride as a former regular saint of the monastery.

“If there is someone in front of me who is hurt, no matter how much of a sinner they are, no matter how meaningless it may seem, it is the duty of a saint to heal them. Before being an individual, I am a saint.”

I don’t want to damage my saintly pride for this man.

“But of course, I cannot heal you with my power right now. So I will only give you bread. Please take it and go home. Don’t ever appear in front of me again.”

Instead of Kasdar, who couldn’t accept it, I handed the bread to Vivian-san.

“Wow ♡ It looks so delicious ♡.”

Vivian-san opened the package and smiled brightly.

I don’t understand how she can be so composed in this situation.

As I was thinking that,

“Don’t mess with me. . .hey!!!!”

Kasdar knocked the bread out of Vivian-san’s hand.

“Eh~, what’s wrong, Kasdar-sama?”

Kasdar left without a word, dragging his body.

Vivian-san turned to me.

“I’m sorry. It looked so delicious, but Kasdar-sama seems to be in a bad mood for some reason.”

“No. . .”

“Oh no, the bread fell. . .”

“I’ll pick it up.”

She squatted down to pick it up, and I panicked.

At that moment, Vivian leaned in close to me and smiled.

“Kasdar won’t give up yet.”

“Eh. . .”

It was a small voice that only I could hear.

Behind her soft silver hair, her purple eyes looked at me and smiled.

Her expression was completely different from her usual demeanor, like a sweet candy.

“Don’t underestimate the Streltsy family and his obsession. I’m looking forward to seeing your skills.”

She said with a curved mouth.

It was as if someone had possessed her.

While I was still stunned, she quickly changed her attitude and chased after Kasdar.

“Oh, Kasdar-sama~~, wait~~.”

Vivian walked with a sweet, cat-like voice and a waddling gait as she left with Kasdar.

After the two of them disappeared from view, Demon King-sama released me from his cloak.

He looked at me with a comforting gaze.

“Hiira. . .I reminded you of something painful. Does your stomach still hurt from being stabbed by him?”

Chapter 35: Hiira is Demon King’s favorite

I felt a throbbing pain from the scar that had already disappeared.

“It’s okay. I’m sorry for making you worry.”

The wound on my stomach that was once stabbed by Kasdar had already been healed by Demon King-sama, leaving no scars.

I touched my stomach to show that I was okay and put on a smile.

“I want to worry about you a little.”

Even though I smiled at him, Demon King-sama didn’t change his sad expression. He stroked my cheek, and his eyes were gentle as always.

I’m sure both Demon King-sama and I are thinking that it’s just like that day.

ーーIt was the day when Kasdar injured Demon King-sama.

When Kasdar, Lala-san, and I reached the throne room of the Demon King’s castle.

Faced with the overwhelming difference in strength that prevented us from inflicting even a single scratch on Demon King-sama no matter how many times we tried, Kasdar came up with a plan.

He grabbed me by the nape of my neck as I tried to heal his wounds and used me as a shield against Demon King-sama.

Taking advantage of Demon King-sama’s momentary hesitation, he pierced me through to inflict a wound on Demon King-sama.

[What a surprise. . .]

When Demon King-sama saw me pierced by a sword from behind, he opened his beautiful golden eyes as if he had seen something unbelievable.

[. . .Using the saint who worries about yourself as a shield, are the nobles of this country like this?]

Behind me, Kasdar laughed through his nose.

[Since she’s a saint, she can’t heal herself anyway. It’s up to me how I use my fiancée.]

The moment Kasdar said that, Demon King-sama blew Kasdar away with the wind.

Then, regardless of his own injuries, he held me, who was bleeding, and healed my wounds.

[Demon King. . .sama. . .?]

“I’m sorry. This childish game has gone on for too long in this country.”

Demon King-sama healed the holes in my clothes and gave Kasdar a magic mark before teleporting him out of the castle.

――Ah, just remembering it makes my stomach ache.

He looked at me with the same gaze that he had when he was worried about me. It’s nostalgic.

As I was lost in thought, Demon King-sama nodded slightly as if he had made up his mind.

“. . .It’s a good opportunity. Let’s show everyone my will as the Demon King.”

“Eh? Um, what do you mean by will. . .”

As I tilted my head, not understanding what he meant, Demon King-sama suddenly flipped his cape and knelt in front of me.

“Eh.”

And just like a knight to a lady, he took my hand respectfully.

“Eh. . .”

Eeeeeeeh.

I couldn’t even scream.

The adventurers and staff around us were stunned.

In the midst of their attention, Demon King-sama looked straight up at me.

“Hiira-dono. I am always watching over you. . .I must not show myself in public, but if anyone tries to harm you, I swear to protect you even if it means making enemies of everyone.”

“W-Well, Demon King-sama. . .”

My bright red face was clearly reflected in Demon King-sama’s beautiful eyes like a full moon.

I had never been so close to him before because of our height difference, and I felt my heart pounding.

“Oh, um, it’s too much for you to make such a vow for me.”

“I’m just making a vow on my own. If you can live as you please, that’s all that matters.”

Demon King-sama smiled and kissed the back of my hand.

“D-Demon King-sama?!”

The surroundings murmured quietly.

My voice was trembling.

Demon King-sama leaned his cheek against the back of my hand and smiled faintly.

“. . .This is the first time I have given a vow like this. Please accept it.”

“W-Why me. . .”

“Don’t say lonely things like ‘why me.’ ”

Demon King-sama looked a little sad and reluctantly moved away from me.

I was confused and my head was a mess.

Kasdar’s attack, Demon King-sama’s appearance, and Vivian-san’s situation.

There’s so much information, so much information.

“Hiira-dono, may the blessings of the earth be with you.”

Demon King-sama flips his cloak and long black hair.

At that moment, something like sparkling smoke covers the area and he disappears along with the smoke,

Leaving a warm sensation on the back of my hand.

“. . .Did he leave?”

The adventurers who were watching with bated breath murmur.

“It’s over. Saint-chan won!!”

“Saint-chan!!! Amazing. . .!!!”

Then, a thunderous cheer erupts all at once.

“Wow!!!!! Saint-chan!!! You did it!!!!!”

“A saint loved by Demon King-sama is amazing!!!!”

“Demon King-sama is really Demon King-sama, right?! That’s amazing!!!!”

“Wow, Saint-chan is basically Demon King-sama’s. . .Right?!”

“What do you mean by ‘basically’?! Look up the meaning of ‘basically’ in the dictionary!!!!”

Amidst the cheers, Synovidos comes in from the back of the kitchen.

“S-Synovidos.”

“I’m sorry for being late~.”

“No, I’m glad you protected my important kitchen. Thank you.”

As I look up to thank him, Synovidos scratches his masked cheek and shows a shy gesture. Then, he approaches the fallen bread with a rustling sound.

“Ah, geez. What a waste of bread. Kasdar-dono is so cruel. . .”

“Oh? Were you watching?”

The kitchen was at the back of the dining room. I don’t think you could see it from outside the shop.

“Well, as a ninja, I can see everything with my clairvoyance.”

“I see!! You’re reliable!!”

“Indeed, indeed.”

Synovidos brushes off the dirt from the bread.

“It can’t be eaten anymore.”

Then, a certain adventurer spoke up.

“Oh, if that’s the case, can I have it? I want to use it as an eraser for my charcoal drawings.”

“Oh, that’s a good recipient. Hiira-dono, can I give it to him?”

“Of course!”

As we exchanged friendly conversation, I felt my mood calming down.

The adventurers were used to trouble and were all people who enjoyed unexpected events.

Kasdar’s intrusion and Demon King-sama’s appearance were just interesting and rare events for them.

“Well then, see you later, Saint-chan!”

“Thanks for the meal! Get a signature from Demon King-sama next time!”

The atmosphere in the room returned to normal, and they all went back to work with renewed vigor.

“Shall we clean up, Synovidos?”

“Understood.”

As I watched Synovidos’s back walking ahead of me.

I suddenly remembered the incident where Kasdar hurt Demon King-sama.

It was really sad and one of the worst things that happened in my life, but after that, I met Synovidos.

“Hey, do you remember? When Synovidos joined the Kasdar Party.”

“Of course. I remember it well.”

Whenever I asked, Synovidos would answer in his usual soft voice.

I couldn’t tell what expression he had behind his mask.

But. . .

“. . .Huh?”

I suddenly felt like Demon King-sama’s gentle gaze overlapped with Synovidos’ figure.

“What’s wrong? If there’s anything, please tell me right away.”

“No, it’s nothing. Thank you for your concern.”

Oh, how rude of me.

Even though Synovidos and Demon King-sama are different people, I’m overlapping their impressions just because they’re both kind to me.

Synovidos made a curious gesture as I shook my head in a hurry, but he didn’t pursue it and went to roll up his sleeves and head to the sink.

“Well then, I’ll quickly wash the dishes.”

“Thank you. I appreciate it.”

As he passed by me, a faint smell of beast orc bone soup wafted from Synovidos.

It seemed like the smell had permeated him from helping out in the magic kitchen.

The moment I smelled it, I suddenly understood the reason for my earlier feeling.

“Oh, I see. I thought they were similar because Demon King-sama also smelled like beast orc bone soup.”

Satisfied with my realization, I immediately rolled up my sleeves and started cleaning up.

The [Saint] ability’s barrier had trapped the smell of beast orc bone soup within the dining area.

So I didn’t realize that the smell was coming from the Demon King-sama.

Chapter 36: Bitou Shinobu’s Thoughts

Suddenly, he thought the moon was dazzling.

“Oh, it’s the moon. . .”

Just like the night sky of his distant hometown that he left behind a long time ago, the beautiful full moon was shining brightly in the sky tonight.

The man was looking up at the night sky.

Since he had become connected to the earth, he no longer needed sleep.

Therefore, the man always sneaked out of the castle known as the Demon King’s Castle at night.

But tonight, he couldn’t bring himself to return to the castle. He was sure that his troubled heart would show on his face.

“. . .Did I really do such a thing. . .”

The man covered his face in shame, alone, as he recalled his actions during the day.

“Aaaaah.”

Things like a vow of a kiss.

He couldn’t believe that he had done something so impulsive on his own.

“If I were a knight of this country, it would be one thing, but for a man like me to feel so guilty. . .ahh.”

Wasn’t she okay with being touched by his lips?

What did she think?

ーーFor that beloved saint, would his affection be a nuisance?

“No, that’s not it. The priority is to protect her. No matter what she thinks of me, that’s a trivial matter.”

While covering his face, the man convinced himself that he had no regrets.

It was an action that prioritized protecting her over his shame and hesitation.

Appearing in front of everyone as the Demon King and giving Saint Hiira a vow of kiss was the most effective way to show that he had her support.

Neither adventurers nor nobles would dare to lay a hand on her.

“. . .That’s right. I have no regrets.”

Even if he was disliked for his forceful approach, as long as his oath protected her, he didn’t care what others thought of him.

But.

Hiira accepted the oath he unilaterally made.

She blushed and looked surprised, but even when he stroked her cheek, kissed her hand, and placed a kiss on the back of her hand, she didn’t show any disgust or fear like when she looked at Kasdar.

If she really hated it, she would have complained to “Synovidos,” whom she trusted, about the forceful demon king.

“Can I think that there’s a chance. . .”

He almost blurted out his true feelings.

“Aaaaah.”

He was honestly happy that she accepted him.

He wanted to continue to get along with her as a demon king if possible.

――But.

There were two things that made a man feel guilty.

One. The fact that he was using different faces for Synovidos and the demon king.

Two. His position as a man who couldn’t make her happy just as a man because he had a contract with the earth as the [demon king.].

The man’s golden eyes darkened. His hair, which melted into the darkness, cast a shadow on his face illuminated by the moon.

“If I were just a man, I could honestly say that I love you, Hiira-dono.”

He muttered to himself.

“But. . .because I’m not just a man. . .I was able to meet you like this.”

Should he curse his fate as an immortal being called the demon king or be grateful for it?

The man couldn’t come to a conclusion tonight.

“Hiira. . .dono. . .”

He muttered, at that moment.

ーーI’m. . .sorry. . .

“Hm!!”

The man lifted his face as if he had been pushed away and looked towards the room where a certain saint was sleeping.

ーーI’m sorry. . .it hurts. . .please forgive me. . .

In the bedroom, which was surprisingly noisy with the cries of birds and insects, other sounds could be heard. The voice of a woman crying and suffering.

The man furrowed his brow deeply and opened the wooden door without making a sound or rustling his clothes.

Beyond the wooden-panelled hallway, he could hear the sound of a woman crying from her room.

“I’m. . .sorry. . .forgive me. . .forgive me. . .”

The man stood silently in front of the door to her bedroom, letting out a deep sigh.

“She seems to be plagued by nightmares again tonight. . .”

He spun a spell with just the movement of his lips.

The saint’s crying voice, which seemed to be plagued by nightmares, stopped and gradually changed to a quiet, deep sleep.

“May you have a peaceful sleep. . .Hiira-dono.”

The man breathed a sigh of relief, turned on his heel decisively in front of the room, and climbed up to the roof from the hallway window.

The red brick roof was shining in the bright moonlight.

The man narrowed his eyes at the moon and his long black hair slipped smoothly from the hood wrapped around his head.

“When will Hiira-dono be able to sleep without being plagued by nightmares?”

Saint Hiira had been laughing a lot lately, sleeping well, and seemed to be in good health.

However, since Kasdar recently barged into the Saint Cafeteria, the wounds she had suffered in her heart and body seem to be tormenting her again.

Whether in front of Synovidos or the Demon King, Hiira always behaves cheerfully and bravely.

But the man realizes that Hiira is not used to happiness.

Despite her bright smile, she believes that happiness always slips through her fingers and doesn’t last long.

That’s why she can laugh even when she’s in pain.

Even when terrible things happen to her, she gives up as if it’s natural.

The man looks up at the moon and thinks back to when he first met her.

The expression on her face when she was wounded by Kasdar in the Throne Room is still burned into his mind.

Chapter 37: Reminiscence *Caution for violent scenes

ーーOn that day.

Kasdar Streltsy’s party was at the mercy of the Demon King, unable to do anything.

“Damn it. . .! Hey, Hiira! Heal us quickly!!! Bring us some food!!”

“Yes!”

Hiira, who was called, ran to Kasdar with freshly warmed crepe dough.

By chance, she tried to help her injured fiancé and got in between Kasdar and the Demon King.

It happened in that instant.

Her fiancé grabbed her shoulder and turned her towards the Demon King.

“Huh?”

The Demon King, who had closed in to pursue Kasdar, stopped in surprise when he saw Hiira’s shocked face.

That was when it happened.

Squelch.

At the same time as the unpleasant sound, a double-edged sword extended from Hiira’s stomach. The tip was extended by magic and touched the Demon King’s thigh.

Through Hiira, who was impaled, Kasdar’s sneering face could be seen.

“Lie, Kasdar-sama. . .”

Saint Hiira’s eyes widened so much that her lips trembled.

Blood spread like blooming flowers on her pure white saint robe.

“Hahaha, I finally did it!!!! I made the Demon King bleed!!! I did it!!!!”

Kasdar’s laughter echoed in the throne room.

The witch, who had been stunned, screamed.

“De. . .Demon King, sama. . .”

The shocked Demon King himself was reflected in Hiira’s eyes.

Blood trickled from her pale, girlish lips.

Transparent tears overflowed from her deep crimson eyes that suited her name, “Hiira Scarlet.”

The words she spoke with trembling lips were unexpected.

“Demon King-sama, I’m sorry for hurting you. . .It’s because I’m clumsy.”

“You. . .”

Even in this situation, Hiira, the saint who apologized to the Demon King.

With just that, the Demon King could sense what kind of life she had lived.

She was a girl who had lived a life of sacrifice.

Even though she had been stabbed in the stomach, laughed at by her fiancé, and hurt both physically and mentally, she still cared about the blood flowing from the Demon King’s thigh.

“. . .!!”

Unable to bear it, the Demon King blew away Kasdar and held the saint in his arms.

He stroked her stomach, which was limp in his arms, and healed her pierced wound with his palm.

“Ah. . .”

“It’s okay now. . .It won’t leave a single scar.”

She smiled softly in his arms, sweating from the pain.

A sweet smell of well-baked pastries wafted from her.

The gentle scent and soft smile made the Demon King’s heart feel like it was about to burst.

It was a pain that gouged a much deeper place than the thigh that was hurt by Kasdar.

“Time’s up. Leave, you fool.”

The Demon King teleported the three members of the Kasdar Party with his magic.

If humans stay in the Demon King’s castle for too long, they will be mentally broken by the magic of the land that the Demon King has contracted.

He wanted to keep Hiira alone, but that was impossible as long as he was the Demon King.

“Thank you, Demon King-sama.”

Hiira murmured softly and disappeared.

Before he knew it, the Demon King was still on his knees, crying uncontrollably in the position where Hiira disappeared.

“Wow, I’ve never seen it before. The Demon King-sama crying.”

A black dragon that was flying through the ceiling of the throne room gently descended.

The Demon King had already lived for hundreds of years with the black dragon, having made a contract with the earth.

Looking back, the Demon King may have never cried in his life as an adult man.

“She was a delicious saint with extraordinary abilities. She was just like you in the old days.”

“Yeah. . .”

“Okay, okay, let me lick away your tears.”

The black dragon extended its tongue to the master who didn’t even wipe away his tears and licked his cheek. With one lick from the large dragon, the face was covered in either tears or saliva, making it wet and sticky.

“. . .The saliva is making my eyes sting even more.”

“Sorry, sorry.”

Even though he joked around with the black dragon, the Demon King’s tears didn’t stop.

[If you like her that much, why don’t you just kidnap her?]

To the beastly suggestion, the Demon King wiped his sticky face with his sleeve and shook his head in denial.

“No, I made a contract with you for the sake of the royal family. I can’t make her happy myself.”

“So you’re just going to let that violent man do whatever he wants to her?”

“. . .I can’t leave this place.”

“Well, if that’s what you’re satisfied with, then that’s fine.”

“But I can protect her. . .Not as the Demon King.”

The strength of the man’s words and gaze made the black dragon show a surprised expression.

“Wow, you’re serious, Demon King-sama.”

The Demon King’s actions were swift after making his decision.

The Demon King covered his appearance with black clothes and a mask and rolled into Kasdar’s carriage just before returning to the capital.

Kasdar was surprised, so was the witch and the Saint.

Feeling relieved to see that the saint was doing well, the Demon King asked for her name and introduced himself by his real name, saying:

“I am Shinobu Bitou, born in Ikawa. I was impressed by Kasdar-dono’s bravery, so I humbly request to join your party.”

The mistake was in his tone.

Because he had introduced himself by his real name for the first time in hundreds of years, his words had become archaic.

“Synovidos Igahan? What the hell is that?”

And his name was misheard.

Well, he thought it might be better not to use his real name in the future, so the Demon King continued the conversation as Synovidos.

“As a ninja, I can help with unlocking and reconnaissance in the Demon King’s castle. Please let me join your party.”

“Ugh, I don’t want to add a man to our group. . .”

While Kasdar frowned at the sudden offer, the witch Lala was more favorable.

“Kasdar, since he’s offering, let’s add him to our group. It’s impossible to continue the subjugation with fewer people than the regulations just because you don’t want a man in the party.”

“Ugh, it’s a hassle.”

Thanks to Lala’s intervention, Kasdar allowed Synovidos to join.

“Fufu, I’m happy to have more companions. My name is Hiira. Hiira Seamacy.”

Saint Hiira smiled like a flower and extended her hand to the strange and mysterious masked man in black who suddenly appeared.

“Nice to meet you, Synovidos-san.”

“. . .There’s no need for honorifics with me, Hiira-dono.”

As they shook hands, Synovidos was surprised once again by the smallness of Hiira’s hand.

He swore in his heart to protect this child at all costs.

Due to nervousness, he continued to speak in a mysterious tone and decided to continue to go by the name Synovidos as the Demon King.

Chapter 38: Thoughts of Bitou Shinobu

“Hiira-dono. . .”

Lost in thought, the man ― the Demon King ― stared at his palm illuminated by the moonlight.

At that moment, he heard footsteps. Hiira had woken up.

“Oh, I need to disguise myself.”

He quickly tied up his hair, put on a hood, and a mask.

A few seconds later, Hiira, who was walking down the hallway, smiled at Synovidos. He was on the roof outside the window.

“Synovidos, you’re awake.”

“Yes. And what about Hiira-dono?”

“Well, I had a bad dream and woke up for a bit.”

As she came down from the roof and stood next to him, Hiira smiled softly at Synovidos―Demon King.

She looked defenseless and lovely with a shawl over her nightwear and her hair down. It was also typical of her that a few strands of hair were floating like static electricity, tangled in her halo.

Realizing that it was not appropriate to stare, Synovidos, the Demon King, looked up at the moon.

“It was beautiful.”

“Yes, it really was.”

Hiira stood next to Synovidos, and narrowed her rabbit-like crimson eyes at the dazzling full moon.

“When I look at the moon, I remember Hiira-dono’s halo.”

“Fufu, it’s true. It can be used as a light in the dark.”

His heart aches sweetly and painfully at the slender shoulders and white cheeks of the girl standing next to him.

(I want to touch her soft hair. I want to bring my lips close to the back of her hand that I kissed during the day and whisper my love to her.)

ーーBut.

(I am a man called Synovidos.)

“You are beautiful. . .my lady.”

It was difficult to find a single word to describe what was beautiful, and he tried to hide the subject.

He clenched hisfists tightly and resisted the impulse. Hiira spoke up as if she had remembered something.

“Oh, right. Hey, Synovidos. I was thinking of having some hot milk. Would you like to join me?”

She looked up at him with her red eyes that suited her name well.

Despite the hardships and being hurt by others, she smiled so kindly even at a suspicious man like him.

(Hiira is more beautiful than anyone else.)

“Is it okay? Then I’ll take you up on your offer.”

“Fufu. I’ll dip some bread and use my ability to relieve your fatigue.”

“Oh, that’s very kind of you.”

“Then, it’s time for a midnight snack~♪.”

Her innocent kindness was both her invaluable strength and her vulnerability.

He strongly wished to protect this simple girl.

Even if he couldn’t be with her forever.

“Hiira-dono.”

“Hmm?”

He stopped her as she headed towards the kitchen.

Almost unconsciously, the words overflowed from him.

“My name is Shinobu Bitou.”

“Eh?”

“Shinobu Bitou. I am the 21st head of the Bitou family of Ikawa Han in the Iwakawa domain. Shinobu Bitou is my true name and status.”

“Uh, a spell. . .?”

Synovidos the demon king chuckled at Hiira, who was rolling her eyes.

“Shinobu Bitou. Shinobu is his given name, and Bitou is his family name.”

“So. . .Shinobu is Synovidos’ real name. . .?”

“That’s right. However, Hiira-dono, I would like you to continue calling me Synovidos as you have done so far.”

“Eh. . .but, but if I know your real name, I feel bad.”

“I like it when you call me Synovidos, Hiira-dono.”

The man with various names shook his head and returned a smile to the confused and lovely girl.

“The name Bitou Shinobu is a name I discarded when my family became extinct. Synovidos, who you call, is. . .who I am now.”

“Well, that’s good. . .but why did you suddenly tell me?”

“I’m sorry for the suddenness. I just felt like telling you.”

He laughed at her puzzled face while gently swaying the halo.

“Okay. . .Shinobu. I won’t call you that normally, but I’ll remember it.”

When she murmured his real name, he felt so happy that he shivered.

He couldn’t reveal his true identity, so he wanted to show his sincerity by telling her his name.

Even if it was just his selfish self-satisfaction.

TL: We literally butchered the name, sorry.

Chapter 39: Doting, and changing hearts and circumstances

Since the Kasdar incident, the Saint Cafeteria has been thriving more than ever.

However, it was impossible to keep expanding the store to meet the demand.

To further expand the store, approval from the capital’s commerce and industry association was necessary.

Above all, it was beyond my ability.

Basically, I could produce an infinite amount of flour, but there was a limit to my physical strength and the amount I could make at once! As expected!

So, we increased the amount of take-out bread within a reasonable range and dealt with it by increasing the number of staff.

It was very helpful that the people of Maytart village were happy to help with various things.

“The one who’s grateful is me, Saint-chan.”

That was what Mari-san, who worked as a staff member, said. She had a nonchalant attitude when talking about her past as a maid who had been abandoned by her lover and fled from the capital with her child. As a former kitchen maid, she had the strength of five trillion people in both the hall and the kitchen.

Especially in the morning, we relied on her to make bread.

Unlike me, who only knew how to make simple bread at the monastery, she could make delicious and beautiful sweet bread. As expected of a former kitchen maid.

After finishing the take-out orders this morning, the two of us took a break before lunchtime in the empty cafeteria.

While sipping tea, Mari-san murmured deeply.

“Thanks to Saint-chan, everyone has become healthier, and there are more people who don’t care about the image of the contaminated land. Life has become easier and more comfortable. I’m really grateful.”

“That’s. . .it’s only natural to repay everyone who accepted me!”

“Don’t say it like a stranger! You’re also a respectable member of our village.”

“Ugh. . .I’m happy. . .”

Since finding a place at the monastery, I have been enjoying a happy time like never before.

Thanks to Demon King-sama showing up in the cafeteria, there have been no strange troubles since then. My relationship with the adventurers who come to visit is also good.

The people from the Chamber of Commerce also came to greet me and expressed their positive consideration for joining in the future.

Everything was going terribly, terribly well.

Except for the relationship between Synovidos and Demon King-sama.

The door leading to the garden opened with a clatter, and tension ran through my body.

“Hiira-dono, we’ve finished harvesting.”

“T-Thank you.”

My voice was trembling.

“I-It’s nothing. . .it’s nothing. . .”

Synovidos was the same.

I received a basket full of freshly picked vegetables, but I couldn’t see Synovidos’ face. He was wearing a mask, so I shouldn’t mind, but. . .

On the night when Demon King-sama kissed the back of my hand, under the light of the full moon, Synovidos told me his real name was Shinobu. But he wanted me to call him Synovidos because it was embarrassing to be called by his real name now.

“Hiira-dono, is there anything I can help you with?”

“Um. . .no, it’s okay! Thank you!!”

“Well then, I’ll go weed the garden or something.”

Synovidos muttered and left.

I breathed a sigh of relief. It’s not that I disliked Synovidos.

I just didn’t know how to interact with him.

And then.

In the evening, Demon King-sama would suddenly come without a sound and buy all the leftovers as takeout.

“Hiira-dono, is everything the same today? Will 10 gold coins be enough to buy everything?”

“It’s more than enough, it’s enough to build a whole church! 10 copper coins are sufficient!”

“I don’t have small change, so it’s one gold coin.”

“Geez, what a rip-off.”

Demon King-sama handed me a handful of gold coins.

Black Dragon-san was laughing behind him.

“Hiira-chan, how about we exchange goods if you don’t want to take the gold? I’ll give you as many of my nail clippings as you want, Hiira-chan.”

“The nail clippings of a dragon said to be a universal memory medicine when ground up!!! Are you going to cut them with such a nail clipper?”

“Even if you say it’s expensive, it’s something that always grows on its own for me. Right, Demon King-sama?”

Demon King-sama glanced at Black Dragon-san and then took my hand and kissed the back of it again.

“Eek.”

“Hiira-dono. Well then. . .see you.”

“Y-Yes. . .”

As Demon King-sama left like the wind, Synovidos came in to take his place.

“I’ve finished cleaning up, Hiira-dono〜.”

“Ah!”

I was surprised and my voice turned upside down.

“Don’t suddenly appear like that, Synovidos.”

“My apologies, my apologies.”

He appeared as if to switch places at the perfect timing, and somehow Synovidos and Demon King-sama started to get mixed up, and I couldn’t tell who was who.

What I can say for sure is that I’m getting nervous around both Synovidos and Demon King-sama.

After seeing off the staff onee-sans, cleaning up, and the sun setting, I suddenly felt exhausted.

“I might be a little tired. I’m starting to sweat.”

“Understood. Leave the rest to me.”

“. . .Thank you.”

I went up to the second floor of my house and sank into the bathtub filled with hot water.

I could hear Synovidos’ presence from downstairs, continuing to clean up.

I felt sorry for him and my chest ached.

I grabbed the halo floating as a light and spoke to it.

“. . .It’s terrible to misunderstand when someone is kind to you. I. . .do halo feel the same way?”

My halo didn’t answer. But it was so beautiful, shining brightly in the bathwater, that it seemed like a waste to me.

“I wish I was as shiny and honest as you.”

I sighed at my reflection in the water.

I hated my plain and childish appearance and my own shallowness that made me conscious of two people of the opposite sex just by being treated a little kindly. My confidence relied on my cooking and pride as a saint, so as a girl named Hiira Seamacy, I knew I had no charm at all.

Synovidos and Demon King-sama are both very kind to me, even though I don’t have any immunity.

I think they are both very important to me.

In fact, I have a strange misunderstanding and my heart beats fast for both of them.

“Even though I have no immunity, isn’t it too much? Me. . .”

Sometimes, I wonder if my feelings towards Synovidos and Demon King-sama are exactly the same, without any jokes.

It’s just that their appearance, voice, and kindness are similar, and I’m confusing and identifying them on my own.

“. . .I wish we could just continue our current relationship. Why do I have to be conscious of both of them at the same time? I should just stop being conscious of them. It’s just me, interpreting their kindness in a strange way is. . .”

The halo just shines brightly without giving any particular response.

ーーー

One day.

During lunchtime when things had calmed down, a visitor came to see me.

Chapter 40: Lala’s Marriage

“Hey there, Hiira. Looks like you’re doing well.”

“Lala-san!. . .You’re dressed unusually today.”

Lala-san used to wear a sexy witch dress, but today she was wearing a calm black dress. The accessory that shone like stardust was still there, but it was an essential accessory for witches as it was a magic supplement.

“Did you change your style?”

“I’ve always liked this kind of clothes. They’re simple. I’m not good at showing skin.”

Lala-san, who was sitting at a terrace seat in a shady area with good ventilation, shrugged her shoulders and laughed.

“I’m just tired. I’ve been trying too hard and pushing myself. . .So, I decided to wear my favorite clothes.”

Her makeup was light today, and her eyes looked swollen.

“. . .I came to say goodbye.”

“What?!?!”

Anyway, I decided to treat Lala-san to lunch.

Summer vegetable salad with mayonnaise and boiled egg dressing (served with crispy croutons), cold freshly squeezed tomato soup, and demon beast chicken sautéed with lemon flavor squeezed tightly.

I only served small bread on the side.

The amount of oil and flour is modest, but it has a satisfying texture with eggs and chicken.

My flour is also included, so it has a healing effect.

It’s a habit from my time in the monastery to serve soup and appetizers all at once.

“It looks delicious. Itadakimasu.”

Lala-san, who had a tired face, also brightened up and first tasted the soup.

Taking one bite, then another, I silently flattened the food little by little, and Lala-san was amazed.

“You were already good at cooking, but your skills have improved a lot. . .?”

“Hehe. . .now I have good seasoning and fresh ingredients, thanks to the adventurers.”

“I see. It looks like you’re having fun, and that makes me happy too.”

Lala-san smiled thinly.

Her smile was not genuine, and I felt a sense of unease and discomfort in my chest.

After taking plenty of time to finish lunch and drinking tea, Lala-san told me.

“I’m getting married.”

I was about to say congratulations, but I stopped myself.

For her, marriage was not a happy thing at all.

[If our party disbands, I’m destined to become a noble old man’s second wife.]

“Did the party disband? Finally?”

“No. I got fired from the Kasdar Party.”

“Fired?!”

“The other day when Kasdar came here, I wasn’t around, right?”

“That’s right.”

“I got fed up with it. Since Hiira left, it’s been even worse.”

“But. . .why did you get fired?”

“It’s a simple story. I couldn’t take it anymore, so I rebelled, and that was the end of it.”

“Rebelled. . .?”

“Yes. He was asking me to kidnap Hiira, burn down the store with magic, and trick the Demon King, and it was too much.”

“Wow.”

Lala-san stuck out her tongue as if to spit it out.

“I told him to stop relying on Hiira and clear his own name. But then, he got angry. . .and in the end, it became foolish to both endure sexual harassment with a smile and desperately flatter him just to not be abandoned.”

Lala-san made a gesture of cutting her neck while saying this.

I was startled and looked at her exposed arms and neck.

“Lala-san. . .did Kasdar do something terrible to you?”

“It’s okay. I don’t have to endure being beaten silently, so I headbutted him the moment he grabbed my collar and ran away.”

“T-Then that’s good.”

I breathed a sigh of relief.

“Well, I was planning to take care of him until the end since I was indebted to Kasdar in some way, but when he told me to burn down Hiira’s shop. . .”

“Lala-san. . .”

While drinking tea after the meal, Lala-san looked into the distance with a distant look in her eyes.

“You know I joined Kasdar’s party to postpone the marriage, right?”

“Yes.”

“After graduating from the magic academy, I really wanted to become a magician serving the royal palace or a noble family, but it was impossible. There was pressure from my family, and as a bastard child of the Baron family, I couldn’t even get my resume accepted.”

“Oh dear. . .”

“I also applied for the party to defeat the Demon King, but no one hired me except Kasdar.”

“It’s surprising that someone as capable as Lala-san wasn’t hired.”

I heard that Lala-san graduated as the third place. It was an implicit understanding that the top two places in the final exam, which was an interview, were usually occupied by children of high-ranking nobles. If we exclude such invisible barriers, Lala-san had the best grades among her peers.

“Well, that’s right. The subjugation of the Demon King’s Castle is just a game to see how much power and connections the leader, usually a nobleman’s son, can demonstrate. No one really thinks about wanting to subjugate it, and the royal family doesn’t want that either.”

Lala-san laughed with a slightly snobbish expression.

“In that case, what is required is not just ability but also family background. Besides, for a daughter to join a party, unless it’s to assist her fiancé, there must be some reason. Hiira was also in the [fiancé’s assistant] category, right?”

“Well, yes. . .”

It was just the worst to have a broken engagement that only left a blemish on my record.

“No one wants someone like me who falls into the [some reason] category. The only party I could join was Kasdar’s.”

“That’s surprising, isn’t it? Kasdar is so proud and showy, yet he fills his party with girls.”

Maybe he didn’t want to surround himself with future male power holders.

Lala-san shrugged her shoulders at my puzzled expression.

“If it’s all guys, then all the achievements will be shared equally. He only gathers a party during the subjugation and wants to take all the credit for himself. That’s why he gather women like us who have guaranteed ability but no strong backing for promotion.”

“I see.”

“Also, he was a pervert. Even if I resisted or talked back, he was the type to say ‘well, it’s okay if you have big breasts.’ ”

“That’s true.”

I replied immediately.

I knew he only looked at Lala-san’s cleavage and butt. I thought maybe Lala-san liked wearing sexy clothes, but maybe she did it to not be abandoned by Kasdar. Being beautiful is tough. . .

“He was the only one who hired me, so I do owe him that much. I really wanted him to reflect and live properly.”

“Lala-san. . .”

“Even though he’s the worst.”

Lala-san narrowed her eyes.

“I can’t forgive him for the domestic violence towards Hiira, and the salary was like minimum wage. He also kept reaching for my chest and butt, so even if I give him one point of gratitude, it’s minus five trillion points.”

“Hahaha. . .”

The wind blew through.

Lala-san smiled with a tired and worn-out face.

It was a calm smile that I had never seen before.

However, that expression quickly changed to a dark one.

Chapter 41: Art Helps (Hiira’s Task Helps Lala)

Lala-san put on a brave smile and pretended to be cheerful.

“It’s okay. I’ll try my best to be happy even after getting married. . .I’m honestly worried about becoming a stepmother, and I’m already disliked by my future family. . .But I won’t give up. I’m trying to think positively, you know?”

“Lala-san. . .”

“But. . .”

She looked at me with a serious expression and pierced me with her purple eyes.

“It’s. . .really sad that I won’t be able to see Hiira anymore.”

“Lala-san. . .Me too.”

“I’ll write letters. Please tell me some fun stories sometimes.”

“Umm. . .Is it already decided?”

Lala-san giving up is not like her.

To my question, Lala-san shook her head sadly.

“Of course. If I had a job, I could escape, but since I’ve been fired, there’s nowhere that will hire me.”

“Is having a job the only solution?”

“I told you, there’s nowhere that will hire someone like me.”

With a slightly irritated expression, Lala-san repeated her words.

“If there was a place that would hire you. . .”

“. . .What? There’s no place that would hire someone like me anyway.”

“There is.”

“. . .What???”

I felt like all the problems, including my own, were being solved.

“Lala-san.”

“What?”

“You can do accounting, right?”

“. . .Well, I can do calculations.”

I had stood up without realizing it. I was excited.

“Lala-san!!!!”

Lala-san looked up at me with a puzzled expression as I grabbed her hand.

“Could you take care of the accounting for the Saint Cafeteria?”

“Accounting? Me?”

“Yes!!”

Lala-san blinked her purple eyes.

A fanfare expressing victory and excitement played in my head.

Because. . .I was a saint who couldn’t do calculations!

❂❂❂

An hour later.

Lala-san looked pale and screamed as she looked at the documents piled up in the cafeteria’s workroom.

“I can’t believe it!! How did you manage with such sloppy accounting?!”

“Well, I’m also surprised~.”

“It’s not surprising! Oh, I see now. The scale of the store’s prosperity and various things are not balanced. At this rate, we’ll be crushed by the Chamber of Commerce before Kasdar does.”

“Ahaha, that’s true.”

“Reflect on it!!”

“Yes.”

I have experience working in a monastery, so I can manage a cafeteria to some extent.

However, I was very bad at accounting and calculations!

There was a veteran sister in charge of accounting at the monastery, so I didn’t have much opportunity to participate as I didn’t have much education.

Other staff members could barely read, and while Synovidos could do calculations, he had zero knowledge about accounting.

Recently, the onii-sans from the Chamber of Commerce, who had been visiting us from time to time, had actually suggested, “Shall we send a good accountant?” and we were considering asking for their help.

“Well, it can’t be helped. I’ll do something about it.”

Lala-san tied her long hair into one and rolled up her sleeves, placing her hand on her waist.

“For now, I’ll just check the situation.”

“Thank you so much. . .!”

“The shop is about to get busy soon, right? You should focus on your work.”

Lala-san pushed my back and sent me back to the magic kitchen.

She looked at me and smiled with a reliable smile.

“I didn’t want to be away from you, and I also wanted a job. It’s a wish come true.”

Chapter 42: The Female Fox

In a room in the royal mansion.

Kasdar received a list of new recruits for the demon king subjugation and his expression changed after reading it for a while.

“This won’t do. Find me better candidates!”

“I-I’m sorry!”

Kasdar shouted at his servant and, unable to contain his frustration, slammed the stack of documents on the table.

“Damn it, they’re all useless. . .!”

Kasdar sat heavily on the sofa and the maid silently brewed tea. Vivian snuggled up to him as if to comfort him.

“Don’t get frustrated, Kasdar-sama. Everything will be okay.”

“Well, I guess I can manage with you around.”

“That’s right ♡.”

Feeling calmer with the beautiful smile and softness of Vivian’s body pressed against him, Kasdar looked back at the recruitment list.

“I’m getting tired of this demon king subjugation.”

“Really?”

“The members of the Royal Guard keep finding fault with it, but on the other hand, it means I’m in high demand for anything else.”

“Wow, Kasdar-sama is amazing ♡.”

“It’s too much trouble to go back to those who underestimated me and cling to them again for the demon king subjugation.”

“Yes, that’s true.”

“My father keeps saying that if I don’t join the Royal Guard. . .but if I decide where to go, my father won’t have to drag me to the countryside just to save face.”

The achievement of demon king subjugation is like an exam to measure the abilities of noble sons in the country.

The age of the son who heads to subjugation, the timing of the subjugation, and the age and status of the party accompanying him are implicitly determined for a reason.

This time, there was a problem with joining the Royal Guard. However, in the end, it was only the Royal Guard who came up with excuses.

As long as there is a place suitable for the reputation of the “genius” who injured the Demon King, it doesn’t matter if it’s not the Royal Guard.

There is no point in hiring boring and mediocre people again to head for the subjugation of the Demon King.

“Well, if we stop the subjugation of the Demon King, Vivi will have to say goodbye to. Sob sob.”

Kasdar groped Vivi’s body, who was crying obviously, and brought his lips close to her ear, laughing softly, “You’re so silly.”

“We’re not parting yet. We don’t plan to disband the Demon King subjugation party until next year, even if it’s just for show. And I have a contract with the clothing store that used me for advertising.”

“I’m so glad~♡ Vivi didn’t want to say goodbye to Kasdar-sama~.”

“What are you talking about? Even if we disband, you can still meet me, right?”

“Kyaa~♡ I’m so happy~♡.”

Vivian wriggled and happily entwined her arms around Kasdar. With the pressure of her plump breasts sticking to him and the breathtaking cleavage, Kasdar became completely happy.

“Hey, are you going to the inner palace?”

“Yes♡ They told me to work as a saint in the inner palace.”

“What a waste. If you enter the inner palace, you’ll never get married and live in a female household for the rest of your life. Your body will cry.”

“Yaa~♡ Kasdar-sama is so naughty.”

Vivian is a frivolous woman with only her face and breasts as her assets, but as a noblewoman, she could be the best connection for Kasdar. Even if he couldn’t touch her anymore, his connection with her would still be a great advantage for him.

She was different from Hiira, a country girl who made noodles from wheat flour in a shabby monastery.

“Well, from now on, I’ll pretend to be busy with subjugation and attend evening parties casually. It’s okay to marry into a powerful noble family. Anyway, as long as I leave the Streltsy family, it’s fine.”

“Hey.”

“Hmm?”

“Is that okay with you, Kasdar-sama?”

Vivian’s gray eyes pierced Kasdar.

The faint light of the small palm-sized halo, the proof of a saint, cast a shadow on her eyes.

“Vivian. . .?”

Kasdar stopped moving at her serious face, which was always smiling and fluffy.

She looked into Kasdar’s eyes, without blinking, and opened her soft lips.

“Vivi is jealous that Hiira can continue to live happily with a smile on her face.”

“What are you jealous of?”

“Even though the saint made Kasdar-sama sad, Lala-san who said terrible things to Kasdar-sama and ran away, and the Demon King who was the main cause of all this trouble, all of them caused trouble for Kasdar-sama, yet they can still live happily without any inconvenience, right?”

“. . .huh. . .!!”

“Kasdar-sama is not a man who settles for this kind of situation, is he? He was someone who could aim higher. It’s a shame that he ended up like this because of the people around him. What a waste.”

As Vivian spoke, Kasdar’s eyes changed color.

“. . .You’re right. As you say.”

“That’s right.”

As soon as he acknowledged it, Kasdar’s calm expression gradually turned into anger and frustration. Vivian’s white fingers were added to his tightly clenched fist.

“Vivi thinks it’s frustrating for Kasdar-sama to just give up. But if Kasdar-sama thinks generously, Vivi will also give up. . .”

“Vivian.”

Kasdar hugged Vivian tightly. When he let go of her hair and body, he had once again turned into a man with anger towards the saint.

“I’m not the kind of person who just gives up. Of course, I’ll make them pay for ruining my reputation.”

Vivian smiled.

“Kyaa ♡. . .Kasdar-sama has to be like that ♡.”

Chapter 43: Adding a fun dining room and discovering facts.

The day Lala-san started working at the Saint Cafeteria as an accounting staff.

In the evening, Demon King-sama came over, probably having heard about it from Synovidos, and immediately used magic to expand the Saint Cafeteria.

The construction was completed in no time, just enough time for us to finish drinking tea on the terrace.

Lala-san and I looked at the new room in the Saint Cafeteria and exclaimed in admiration at the excellent workmanship.

“I see, you added an office behind the first-floor kitchen. It has good ventilation, and it’s a place where customers can’t enter, so it seems easy to work here. It’s also nice to have a hidden staircase from the office to my room on the second floor.”

Lala-san happily looked at the office desk and opened and closed the filing cabinet.

There were many items that only a high-spec witch like Lala-san could use, such as a magic calculator for calculations and a magic express delivery service for secure document delivery.

“I like it. We can end the rough estimates today. Leave it to me, Demon King.”

“You’re reliable. If there’s any inconvenience, let me know anytime.”

Lala-san, who was also confident with Demon King-sama, had completely changed her image in terms of clothing and hairstyle over the past week.

Adorning her long red hair was a headband with a shooting star accessory that provided magical support, and she wore a sparkling scrunchie on her arm to tie up her hair. Her black dress was still the same, but the knee-length one-piece was fluffy and very fashionable. A delicate and slender necklace hung on her square-cut décolletage. Above all, her glasses completely changed her image.

“To be honest, my eyesight was pretty bad. I didn’t wear glasses because I prioritized fashion, but I thought glasses wouldn’t be bad for my current job.”

“Oh, I see. . .Beautiful people look good in any fashion, don’t they?”

“No, that’s not it. I know what fashion suits me, so that’s why I’m beautiful.”

“C-Cool.”

“Fufu. You’re cute too, so you should learn to dress up properly. Right, Demon King?”

“Hiira-dono is already lovely as she is.”

“Eh. . .J-Joking aside, let’s go check the room, okay?”

The three of us went upstairs to the residential area and entered Lala-san’s room on the second floor, which was an extension.

Looking at the room, Lala-san sighed happily.

“It’s the best. The bed linen and curtains are in my favorite lavender color!”

Lala-san turned around excitedly.

“Hey, Demon King. How did you know that I like this color?”

“W-Well. . .”

Demon King-sama seemed to be struggling to speak.

I raised my hand and asked,

“Is it because Lala-san’s eyes are purple?”

“Y-Yes.”

Demon King-sama nods in agreement, becoming my lifeline.

“Hmm. You have good taste.”

Lala-san nods in understanding and checks the height of the bed and pillows.

“I thought the same thing when I sat at the desk in the office. The height of the chair and the pillows are just right. What? Are you stalking me?”

“Uh, no. . .”

“Lala-san, can’t magic create anything to fit the person’s needs?”

As a saint, I only know magic related to the study of saint magic, so I don’t understand the mechanism of material formation magic.

“There is a saying that ‘magic is a creation based on imagination.’”

Lala-san answered my question in a simplified manner.

“You have to be able to construct everything in your head, such as the material, height, thickness, strength, nail material, and so on, to create something so perfect. Normal magicians can’t think of such things, so even furniture craftsmen who make custom-made furniture won’t lose their jobs.”

“What about when Lala-san creates a kitchen or a cottage with magic?”

“I just remember the completed spell design and add a little modification to build it.”

“Oh, I see. . .I didn’t know that.”

“It’s the same as you transmuting various variations of flour.”

“I see. . .”

While I nod in admiration, Demon King-sama looks away.

“So, this room that the Demon King made for me is clearly a room that couldn’t be made without knowing my height, waist height, dominant hand, habits, and preferences. I’m happy that it’s fully customized, but do you know me that well?”

“Well. . .”

“Well?”

“Because I’m the Demon King, I know.”

“. . .Well, never mind. There’s no doubt that you and Hiira are my benefactors, and it would be rude to push further. I’m sorry.”

When Lala-san stopped pursuing the matter, Demon King-sama visibly breathed a sigh of relief. Perhaps he could only explain it as “because I’m the Demon King.”

I bowed my head to him and thanked him.

“Thank you, Demon King-sama, for making Lala-san’s room.”

Lala-san looked puzzled next to me.

“Why are you being so formal like you’re talking to Synovidos?”

“Oh, right. . .But I thought it might be better to greet the Demon King-sama somehow.”

“What do you mean, ‘somehow’?”

Lala-san furrowed her brow even more.

Come to think of it, that’s right. As I thought about it, Lala-san also bowed her head like me.

“But if that’s your etiquette, let me thank you in the same way. Thank you, Demon King.”

“. . .Hmm. Is there anything else you need?”

At Demon King-sama’s words, I clapped my hands.

“Oh, right, Demon King-sama. I have a request.”

“Ah, please don’t hesitate and tell me anything.”

“I also want a room for Synovidos.”

“Huh?!”

Demon King-sama stumbled over his words.

Oh no, was it wrong to ask. . .?

While feeling anxious, I continued talking until the end.

“He’s currently staying in a guest room that was made for him. But I want to prepare a proper room for Synovidos too. Please.”

“Wait, Hiira.”

Lala-san raised her hand and quietly entered the room.

“. . .How long has that guy been squatting here?”

“We’ve been living together almost the whole time.”

“Are you kidding me?! Under the same roof?! Just the two of you?!”

“Well, yes. He said he had something to do and disappeared before Demon King-sama arrived.”

“I thought you two were living separately. . .but there hasn’t been any progress?!”

“W-What do you mean by progress?!”

“Oh my. It was more than I imagined. . .”

Lala-san held her head in her hands.

“Why is that suspicious ninja living with you without any clear reason? He’s useless!”

“. . .Cough.”

Demon King-sama coughed, looking like he couldn’t stand it anymore.

“He must have his own circumstances.”

“Why is the Demon King taking his side?”

Lala-san glared at Demon King-sama with half-closed eyes.

Demon King-sama coughed again.

“Hiira-dono. . .I don’t really approve of living with a man and making a room together, unless it’s for work.”

“Hahaha, why are you both making such serious faces? Synovidos isn’t that kind of person.”

Lala-san made a strange face and shook her head at my words.

“Synovidos has my condolences.”

“Yeah, I think so too.”

“. . .Kyaaaaa?!”

Suddenly, a man entered the room through the window and nodded. It was Black Dragon-san.

Lala-san screamed.

“W-Who are you?!”

“Yo, I’m Black Dragon. Nice to meet you, Lala-chan.”

“Hey, Lala-san. He’s the big black dragon we used to see during the Kasdar Party and sometimes at the Demon King’s Castle.”

With my explanation, Lala-san’s eyes widened even more.

“What, what?! You’re the legendary black dragon that protects the country?!”

“Huh?”

Lala-san’s words were new to me, so I asked again.

Chapter 44: Worms and Flowers

“What is the legendary black dragon that protects the country?”

“Don’t you know? Well, this is a story that can never be told to a saint affiliated with the church.”

“A story that can’t be told to a saint?”

“Yes.”

Lala-san understood my question and continued to explain.

“The legendary black dragon is a story from the ancient religious era before the country was established. Do you know that Lucidia Kingdom, our country, is a peninsula that protrudes southward from the continent?”

“Yes.”

“Well, Lucidia Kingdom is named after the Lucidia royal family, but before that, the peninsula was called Draco Cocoon. And in that era, people believed in a black dragon that protected the peninsula. However, since the first king of Lucidia Kingdom took control of the peninsula, the traditional black dragon faith disappeared as a primitive heresy.”

Clap, clap, clap.

Black Dragon-san clapped his hands with a smile.

“Wow. There are still people who know about it.”

Black Dragon-san seemed impressed that Lala-san’s explanation was correct.

While I was a little concerned about Demon King-sama’s not-so-bright expression next to me, I listened to Lala-san’s explanation.

“Draco Cocoon has black fertile soil and is the most abundant land with food overflowing more than any other land on the continent. Well, that’s why there were long-lasting wars. Anyway, the prosperity of Draco Cocoon was believed to be the blessing of the black dragon, the land god of the peninsula.”

“Oh, I see. . .”

“I’m still protecting people properly even now. Isn’t that great?”

“Wow! That’s amazing!”

I was honestly moved by Black Dragon-san’s casual words.

Lala-san looked at him with a hand on her waist, looking amazed.

“It’s strange for me, who is being protected, to say this, but it’s impressive that you still don’t abandon the humans who treated you as a heretic.”

“Well, it’s not like I care what those insignificant humans think, since just my existence alone makes the land prosperous.”

“Insignificant humans, huh.”

“It’s like watering a flower bed and being thanked by the earthworms living in it. It doesn’t matter to me.”

“E-earthworms. . .flower bed. . .”

“Well, to me, the flowers in the flower bed are important ♡.”

Black Dragon-san made a peace sign with both hands and smiled. (It’s a pose that everyone in the country knows, originating from the hero in a fairy tale who raised two fingers to indicate victory.)

After gazing at Black Dragon-san with half-closed eyes, Lala-san turned her gaze to me.

“Hiira. That’s what the legendary Black Dragon means. It’s a story that can’t be taught in the doctrine of the current church, which deifies the first king. It’s natural that Hiira, a saint belonging to the church, doesn’t know about it.”

“Why does Lala-san know about it?”

“The old festival song that remains in my hometown is a song that prays for a bountiful harvest to the Black Dragon. It’s an unofficial festival of the lord, so it remains because of that. So honestly, when I saw the Black Dragon in the Demon King’s castle, I couldn’t believe my eyes. . .The amount of magic power and presence were exactly the same as the Black Dragon in the local legend.”

“Hmm, I see. There are still people who know about that kind of thing.”

Black Dragon-san grinned happily.

“I thought everyone had forgotten about it already.”

“Not really. If my grandmother from my hometown saw the Black Dragon, she would bow down and worship it.”

“Really? Should I go see her?”

“Please don’t. What if the cult is revived? Also, personally, I researched it in the library during my time at the magic academy. I got the key to the forbidden area and read the forbidden books.”

“Lala-san, you were crossing a dangerous bridge.”

“Knowledge is my only weapon. I have to sharpen it.”

Lala-san stuck out her tongue. I was just impressed.

With Lala-san’s intelligence and knowledge, many things become clear.

I saw Demon King-sama.

“So, Demon King-sama is with Black Dragon-san.”

“Yeah.”

Demon King-sama avoided the topic with vague words and lowered his gaze. Hmm, maybe it’s a topic he doesn’t want to touch.

Thinking that, Black Dragon-san put his arm around Demon King-sama’s shoulder with a good smile.

“That’s right. Unlike the riffraff of humans, Demon King-sama is someone I want to pledge my loyalty to.”

“So, in other words, he’s not a worm, but a flower in a flower bed?”

“Lala-chan is correct~♪.”

Suddenly, at that moment, despite the carefree attitude of Black Dragon-san, Demon King-sama’s golden eyes seemed to darken.

Worms and flowers in a flower bed.

If humans were worms, then Demon King-sama was a flower in a flower bed. Demon King-sama’s expression darkened at the mention of that.

I was curious about Demon King-sama’s expression and spoke up.

“Um, does that mean, Demon King-sama. . .”

――As a flower in a flower bed, are you sacrificing something for the sake of humans?

Just as I was about to ask, Black Dragon-san interrupted me.

“Come to think of it, Lala-chan, what stories do they still tell you about me in your hometown?”

“Well, there’s the one about you drinking all the village’s sake at the festival and getting drunk and rolling around.”

“Ah~!! That brings back memories~!!”

Black Dragon-san and Lala-san were getting excited about their old stories.

I became convinced that my anxiety was justified.

Could it be that Black Dragon-san deliberately avoided the topic of Demon King-sama?

There was so much information, and I couldn’t understand their intentions. I just kept quiet.

Then, Demon King-sama quietly spoke to me.

“Hiira. About Synovidos’ room. . .”

“Ah, y-yes.”

I had completely forgotten. We were talking about wanting to add a room for Synovidos.

For some reason, Demon King-sama blushed and carefully chose his words.

“Anyway, Synovidos is just there to protect you. . .I don’t think it’s a good idea to make his room a place for you to stay since you’re still unmarried. . .”

“But Synovidos doesn’t look at me like that, I’m sure.”

Demon King-sama’s serious gaze pierced through me.

“What about me. . .do you have any feelings for me?”

“Eh. W-Well, that is. . .”

“I mean, do you see me as a potential romantic partner?”

“. . .Eh, um. . .”

I stumbled over my words.

Feeling my face flush, I unconsciously looked away. Demon King-sama hesitated and whispered.

“For example, if I said I wanted to live with you, what would you do?”

“Eh?”

“. . .Would you have feelings for me?”

The world outside of me and Demon King-sama felt distant.

Demon King-sama’s golden eyes, more mysterious than a cat’s eyes and shining brighter than a full moon, pierced through me seriously and wouldn’t let go.

I couldn’t hear Lala-san or Black Dragon-san’s voices anymore.

“Um, well. . .it’s presumptuous of me to think about having feelings for Demon King-sama or Synovidos. . .”

I feel embarrassed by Demon King-sama’s gaze staring at me.

“Both of you are very kind to me, so I got flustered on my own. . .um. . .I’m sorry.”

As I stumbled over my words, Demon King-sama looked at me with a very gentle expression and smiled.

“You’re conscious of me. . .and him.”

“Uh, um. . .”

“. . .Hiira-dono. Actually. . .”

“!!! That’s it!!”

I clapped my hands at my brilliant idea.

“If Demon King-sama and Synovidos have separate rooms, wouldn’t that be perfect?!”

“?!”

It was a great idea! If they both have their own rooms, it should be okay even if we’re both conscious of each other!

Lala-san responded to my shout.

“Wait a minute, Hiira! Living together with the Demon King, ninja, witch, and saint is just too ridiculous!!!”

“Hahaha, come on, can I live with you guys too?”

“The legendary dragon is joining in?!”

Black Dragon-san laughed loudly while Lala-san made noise next to him.

Demon King-sama looked troubled and held his head.

It was chaotic, but it was a very enjoyable night.

I’m very curious about the relationship between Demon King-sama and Black Dragon-san, but I decided not to delve into it any further because I didn’t want to stir up any trouble.

The next day, no one had yet realized that things would take a turn for the worse.

Suddenly, the customers stopped coming. Just like that.

Chapter 45: When the tide turns

“The number of customers has completely stopped.”

“I wonder if something happened.”

Lala-san and Synovidos were standing outside, arms linked, looking out.

I remembered the words Vivian-san left behind during the Kasdar attack.

[Kasdar won’t give up yet.]

[Never underestimate the Count Streltsy family and his obsession. I’m looking forward to seeing your skills.]

Her words seemed to have become a reality.

“Probably Kasdar’s bribe money.”

“Most likely.”

The three of us had an early lunch together in the empty cafeteria.

We had freshly baked bread with mayonnaise mixed with bacon and eggs from the chickens we raised in the garden, and a refreshing summer vegetable soup.

Around the time we finished eating, a regular female adventurer, Margarette-san, came to the cafeteria, sneaking in as if hiding from someone.

“Something terrible has happened, Saint-chan.”

Margarette-san handed me yesterday’s gossip newspaper.

[Saint Hiira Seamacy of the Saint Cafeteria is in collusion with the root of all evil, the Demon King. The church is considering a response to this act of rebellion against the royal palace?!]

[Is the saint, who operates in contaminated land, having problems with food safety?!]

“Wow.”

“Since it’s only covered by a gossip newspaper, I don’t think the church or the royal palace has taken any action yet.”

“?! to make the information ambiguous is a common tactic in gossip articles.”

Lala-san nodded in agreement next to me.

“But because of this article, the nobles who are concerned about their reputation have already issued a notice to the adventurer’s guild to [suspend transactions with adventurers related to the Saint’s Dining Hall]. . .”

“I see. So that’s why everyone stopped coming. . .”

“I’m sorry I couldn’t be of any help. Everyone actually wants to meet Saint-chan, but our job is a credit business with the nobles.”

“It’s not your fault.”

I shook my head at Margarette-san, who looked apologetic.

“I’m glad you contacted me even if it’s just you. Margarette-san, please leave here quickly before anyone else finds you.”

“Saint-chan. . .”

“I’ll be fine. I hope the earth’s blessing will be with you too, Margarette-san.”

“Thank you. . .I’ll try to find something I can do to help too.”

I took a bite of bread, activated my protective ability as a saint, and smiled as I escorted her out the back door. At least her presence should be concealed until she returns to her companions.

After she left, Lala-san let out a sigh and spoke.

“Well, that’s to be expected if it’s revealed that the Saint is connected to the Demon King.”

“Demon King-sama is a target for subjugation, after all. . .”

“Ugh, which publishing company wrote such a terrible article. I’ll remember this.”

Lala-san frowned visibly as she looked through the gossip newspaper that was left behind.

“Ugh, Kasdar is doing an interview?! And he’s blaming all his downfall on Hiira. . .I shouldn’t have watched it, he’s the worst.”

“. . .I was warned by Vivian-san. Actually, I’m sure Kasdar will try to interfere again.”

“Vivian, huh. . .that woman is also a bit concerning.”

“Concerning. . .in what way?”

“In various ways. I’m not sure yet.”

Lala-san was looking at the newspaper, lost in thought.

Synovidos was cleaning up the dishes and staring down at the sink.

“Synovidos?”

“Oh, yes. . .Hiira-dono.”

“I’m sorry for worrying you. We have to come up with a plan, haha.”

“Don’t worry about it. It’s just that. . .”

“Why is Synovidos apologizing?”

I smiled brightly and opened the cupboard where the tea was stored.

“Since it’s a time like this, let’s have some good tea. Oh, I have some imported high-quality tea leaves from across the sea that a customer gave me before. It has sparkling gold flakes in it, it’s amazing.”

As I behaved cheerfully, Synovidos remained frozen, staring at me.

I couldn’t see his expression behind the mask. But I felt like he had a terribly sad face.

At that moment, Black Dragon-san landed in the garden.

“Saint-chan, how are you doing~?”

“Hey!!!!!! Don’t come at a time like this, you idiot!!!”

Lala-san rushed out with a furious expression.

“Ahaha. Looks like we’ll need a tea set for four people.”

“. . .Indeed.”

I smiled at Synovidos, but he only gave me an indifferent response.

While I was making tea, Lala-san said she had something she wanted to check and went to the back with a mug of tea.

I had tea with Synovidos and Black Dragon-san.

When I told him about the lack of customers and the news in the newspaper, Black Dragon-san’s eyes widened.

“Wow, I didn’t know that. That’s tough.”

“Yes. That’s why Lala-san hurriedly pulled Black Dragon-san to the back.”

“By the way, being friendly with the Demon King is a crime of rebellion against the royal family, right?”

While looking curiously at the tea with floating gold leaf, Black Dragon-san muttered as if he couldn’t understand.

“I don’t think the royal palace will condemn Hiira-chan for that, but. . .”

“Well, I’m not sure. If the nobles really did put pressure on the Adventurer’s Guild. . .”

“But Hiira-chan is the [Saint Beloved by the Earth], right? I don’t think they would put a child who is the country’s trump card in a difficult situation.”

“The human world is quite complicated.”

“I don’t understand humans at all.”

I shrugged my shoulders while laughing.

It seems that Black Dragon-san believes that the royal palace would not abandon me.

It seems difficult to make him understand the subtleties of human society.

At that moment, Lala-san appeared from the back.

“Hey, Hiira, can you come here for a moment? I want you to confirm something.”

“Sure!”

I stood up and looked at Synovidos and Black Dragon-san.

“I’ll be back in a bit. Please enjoy yourselves.”

“Good luck~.”

Black Dragon-san waved his hand cheerfully to see me off.

I’m glad Black Dragon-san came today. His words from the perspective of a dragon somehow make me feel relieved.

On the table, only Synovidos and Black Dragon-san remained.

Black Dragon-san was looking at Synovidos, who was staring silently at his tea, with a stern expression.

Chapter 46: The black dragon doesn’t know

As Hiira fluttered into the back, the black dragon turned to his master.

His master, still wearing a mask, was silently staring at his tea.

“I don’t understand what Hiira-chan was saying at all. Weren’t the royal palace and Demon King-sama allies who wished for peace and prosperity in the Draco Cocoon Peninsula? Why does a saint and Demon King-sama being friends become a rebellion against the royal family? I don’t get it. . .”

“Perhaps the will of the royal palace has changed over the centuries. The meaning of the name ‘Demon King’ has probably changed as well.”

Synovidos, the master in his strange costume, muttered in a muffled voice behind his mask.

The black dragon raised an eyebrow and said, “Huh?”

“What do you mean by ‘changed’?”

“Just as it sounds. . .The current perception is that the Demon King is an enemy that threatens the royal palace.”

“Huh?? What happened, and why?”

“. . .That’s just how humans are. In the changing generations from child to grandchild, the will of the first generation disappears. I thought that protecting the country as a hated figure for the sake of a just cause was also one way to do it.”

He let out a sigh and moistened his mouth with the floating gold tea.

“It seems that my existence was more hated by the country than I had imagined. . .”

At his resigned attitude, the black dragon found himself speaking up.

“Demon King-sama. I like you.”

The black dragon’s feelings were sincere. He was a man who had initially been nothing more than a foolish human burdened with the name “Demon King.”

However, as they spent many years together, they gradually began to feel an irreplaceable friendship.

“I like you, and I love Hiira-chan too. So, seriously, it’s time to put an end to this and find your happiness.”

“I made a promise when I made a contract with you. I cannot break the promise with the royal family.”

Despite his expression clouded by the treatment of the royal family, the Demon King stubbornly shook his head.

“Bitou Shinobu was a foolish lord who destroyed his homeland. When he washed up alone on this Draco Cocoon peninsula, he wished to become someone who could protect the people. . .Since he pledged to assist the royal family and devote himself, he cannot break that promise.”

It was a story of the Demon King’s past that the Black Dragon had heard many times over the centuries.

According to the Demon King, he was once the king of a small country, but the country was destroyed by war.

It was a naval battle against a powerful force that sought to rule the country. They were defeated in a hand-to-hand battle on the ship, and he was swallowed up by the waves along with the bodies of his vassals.

However, he was fortunate or unfortunate enough to survive and wash up on this Draco Cocoon peninsula alone.

The peninsula where the foolish king who could not protect his country and people arrived was a land of continued warfare, just like his homeland.

It was a land where small countries were in turmoil, fires broke out somewhere all the time, castles were burned down, and people fled in confusion.

The man who could not protect his country felt pain in his chest as he saw the state of the Draco Cocoon peninsula, which reminded him of his homeland.

After wandering for a while, he was picked up by a young monarch for the sake of peace in the Draco Cocoon Peninsula, and decided to assist him.

It was at that moment that the Black Dragon and the Demon King met.

The Black Dragon had spent a long time with the Demon King since they met.

The Black Dragon remembered the moment they met as if it were yesterday.

[For the peace of the Draco Cocoon Peninsula, O spirit beast of the [Earth], please lend me your strength.]

[I’ll help you because it’s interesting. However, you have to hold my reins. I’m just a beast who doesn’t know what humans like. So, you can handle me and use me in a way that’s convenient for humans.]

[Is it okay to entrust [Earth] to a foolish monarch who survived even after his own country was destroyed?]

[It’s fine. I don’t know what humans will be happy with, whether it’s [Earth] or how to stop the war in the Draco Cocoon Peninsula. But if you’ve failed once, you should know how to stop it, right?]

The man who became a demon king by quitting being a human for the sake of the peace of the Draco Cocoon Peninsula in a foreign country, and the holy beast of [Earth].

It was a twisted relationship, but living with his master was fun for the Black Dragon.

However, it was a different issue for the Black Dragon to enjoy it personally and to want to release this man from his role as a [Demon King].

“Although our goals are different, are you still going to continue being a demon king?”

Even after hearing the Black Dragon’s words, the demon king stubbornly shook his head.

“Keeping my promise is my pride. The other party’s rudeness is not a reason.”

“You’re so stubborn~.”

“Also.”

“Also?”

The Demon King let out a sigh under his mask.

“If I were to just become an ordinary man now. . .I wouldn’t want to let go of Hiira-dono.”

“Why don’t you just become her bodyguard?”

The black dragon couldn’t help but interject. What was he thinking saying that at a time like this?

However, the Demon King wearing the mask was deadly serious.

“The one who’s in trouble is Hiira-dono. To think that she would have feelings for someone like me. . .That’s why I will continue to protect her as the Demon King. And now that faith in [Earth] has weakened, if I were to resign as the Demon King, it would not be enough for the black dragon to handle.”

“You’re just like each other, always worrying about others.”

The black dragon clenched his fist in frustration.

It’s no use making fun of them anymore.

“Ah, I can’t watch this anymore. Why are you two so similar in the most important ways?”

“Black Dragon. . .?”

The Demon King looked up at the standing black dragon in surprise.

(This Demon King is a good person. Perhaps he is too trapped in the past of destroying his homeland, sacrificing himself too much. That self-sacrifice is hurting even those who like him, like me and Hiira-chan.)

“Hey, you know what? Hiira-chan said it too. ‘That it’s a waste for both of you to have someone like me who was abandoned by Kasdar.’ . .And probably.”

When the two of them talked while Hiira was riding on his back before.

She definitely said this while stroking her stomach.

――It’s a waste for both of you. I’m nothing special.

――I’ve always been told that I’m plain and not cute.

――And I’m a saint who was treated badly by Kasdar and abandoned, you know?

“She’s really concerned about her injured body, that girl.”

Chapter 47: Be prepared to be specific

“. . .Huh.”

Finally, his master’s voice showed some emotion, and the Black Dragon felt relieved inside.

While staring at the face of the Demon King, which was hidden behind the mask and impossible to read, the Black Dragon continued speaking.

“I don’t really understand human emotions, but at the very least, she’s been worried about the fact that she used to belong to Kasdar.”

“Hiira-dono. . .she couldn’t possibly be. . .”

To the Demon King, she was probably just a saint who he loved dearly.

Because of the strength of her love, she didn’t even realize how much she was belittling herself.

If you love someone, you have to tell them. That’s the simple logic of a beast.

“If you stay the way you are, that girl will be a miserable girl who was ruined by Kasdar for the rest of her life. And Demon King-sama will probably just watch over her because he doesn’t want to fall in love. What’s the point of getting worked up over something so small?”

“. . .That’s. . .”

“Hiira-chan isn’t the kind of girl who gets angry over small things, whether you reveal her true identity or tell her the truth. You said it yourself, she’s bold, right?”

“That’s true, but. . .”

“See? Then it’s fine. Whether you tell her everything about the Demon King-sama or not, she’ll just smile and say ‘Is that so?’ and make dinner for you. Probably.”

“. . .I can imagine that face. . .”

“What?”

Behind the rough mask, the Black Dragon couldn’t see the man’s face. But he felt like he had relaxed his shoulders a little and smiled.

He repeats his words, hoping that the Black Dragon’s wish will reach his true feelings hidden behind the thick mask.

“You two finally met as fate intended. You should have already compensated for the sin of not being able to protect your homeland. Besides. . .”

(One more push. Let’s try to provoke him a little.)

The Black Dragon thought for a moment, narrowed his eyes, and smiled wickedly.

“While you were watching from afar, would you be okay if Hiira-chan had a man?”

“What?”

The Demon King was clearly flustered, and the Black Dragon laughed.

“You’re okay with that, right?”

“Black Dragon. . .?”

“The saint beloved by the earth, humans say it well. Just like you, hundreds of years ago, the human I made into a Demon King had a delicious soul.”

The Demon King was taken aback.

The Black Dragon licked his lips with his long tongue as if to show off.

“Hey, Demon King-sama. Can I make Hiira-chan the next Demon King? She’s a girl, so I’ll take her away and marry her, and lock her up deep in the Demon King’s castle.”

――The next moment.

The Black Dragon’s bangs were cut off with a snap.

A faint red mark appeared on his nose.

“Ah. . .”

The Demon King trembled with disbelief at what he had done.

“Haha. That’s how it should be.”

He wants to take off his mask and expose his face to see what expression he’s making.

“The answer is already clear, isn’t it?”

“Thank you, Black Dragon. I’m sorry.”

The Black Dragon brushed his bangs aside and smiled at the dumbfounded Demon King.

“Don’t apologize. I just like you guys.”

As he spoke, he drank the completely chilled tea. The characteristic of high-quality tea leaves was that they tasted good even when cold.

“We can think about what to do from now on with just you and me, Hiira-chan. I’ll lend you my strength. . .It’s a good opportunity to see if this country is really worth sacrificing yourself for.”

“Yeah, that’s right. . .”

The Demon King took a sip of tea and turned his face towards the direction of the office where Saint Hiira and the witch Lala had disappeared.

Even in his strange black attire and mask, it was easy to imagine that he had made a decision.

Chapter 48: Demon King, Moving

ーーI left Synovidos and Black Dragon-san at the table and retreated to the back with Lala-san.

“Look at this. The name of the printing company that published the gossip article.”

Lala-san showed me the name of the flyer printing company.

“Litolaide Company, right?”

“You’re making a face like you don’t know. . .It’s a subsidiary of the popular mass media company that publishes books related to the church. Do you know the Litolaide Company?”

“Ah!!!!”

“That’s right. This is a subsidiary of the publishing company that Duke Paswest’s family invests in.”

“Does that mean. . .”

“Not just Kasdar, but Vivian is involved too. . .”

Lala-san muttered and brainstormed countermeasures while looking at the gossip article.

“Even if we sue for obstruction of business, they’ll just dodge it. We’ll have to give up on the apology advertisement, but there must be something we can do.”

“Um, Lala-san.”

“Do you have a good idea?”

“. . .Actually, it’s not about that.”

After listening to the conversation between Black Dragon-san and Lala-san earlier, there was something that had been bothering me.

It was a question that I had been holding onto since I first met Demon King-sama in the throne room and he helped me.

“Please tell me. I’ve been wondering for a long time, but why is Demon King-sama called Demon King-sama?”

“Why, you say.”

Lala-san seemed surprised by the sudden topic.

She widened her eyes behind her glasses.

“I’m sorry. I just can’t help but wonder. Because, Lala-san. . .He’s just protecting the border and lending his chest for the nobles to test their power. Has Demon King-sama ever threatened the country?”

Since I was saved by Demon King-sama, I had been questioning the difference between him and the “Demon King” that was talked about in the Lucidia Kingdom.

If he really was a person who deserved the name “Demon King,” it wouldn’t be strange if he had just left me alone when I was stabbed in the stomach.

But he was very kind.

――Because it was a word that doubted the king and the doctrine of the church, I couldn’t consult anyone until today.

Lala-san widened her eyes behind her glasses and then looked at me with a faint smile.

“Hiira. Your question is almost a crime of rebellion, you know?”

“That’s why I couldn’t ask anyone. But if it’s Lala-san, I thought maybe it would be okay to ask.”

“I see. . .This is just my theory, though.”

Lala-san sat in a chair and crossed her legs.

Then, while looking at Black Dragon-san and Synovidos sitting in the dining room, she muttered with a distant look.

“The Demon King. . .is probably a being close to the old gods who were driven away by the current church system that worships the first king as the only god.”

“Old gods, you say.”

“Or maybe a sacrifice offered to the Black Dragon.”

“A sacrifice?!”

“I might be wrong. But at least, it’s certain that it was the royal family who started calling him the Demon King.”

“Why, the royal family?”

“Well. . .if it weren’t for the royal family saying that he’s the Demon King, no one would even know about the [Demon King who lives in the forest at the tip of the peninsula].”

“I see. . .”

“To be honest, there’s something that I’m curious about too.”

Lala-san muttered to Synovidos and Black Dragon-san sitting at the table.

“Are Synovidos and Black Dragon that close? It’s almost like. . .”

At that moment.

Synovidos stood up and approached us straight ahead.

With his unwavering footsteps, I felt a strange sensation in my chest.

“Lala-dono. I’m going out with Hiira-dono today. Can I leave the store to you? I’ll leave Black Dragon as a guard.”

“What’s going on all of a sudden?”

Lala-san stood up in agitation, and Synovidos answered with a calm voice.

He seemed to be standing up straighter than usual.

“I’ll settle things.”

“Settle things? Where are you going? And, Black Dragon as a guard, it’s a bit. . .”

Black Dragon-san, who followed us with a smile from behind, raised both hands in a peace sign and smiled at Lala-san, who was in a panic.

“Don’t worry, don’t worry. I’ll stay and protect you.”

“Well, I’m glad you’ll protect me, but. . .”

“I’ll tell Lala-chan anything she’s curious about. You’re interested in me, right?”

“Eh.”

At that moment, Lala-san’s expression overflowed with uncontrollable intellectual curiosity.

“You really will tell me everything, really\. . .”

“Really, really.”

After confirming the situation between Lala-san and Black Dragon-san, Synovidos looked at me.

He straightened his back and his head was held high.

It was Synovidos, but he didn’t seem like Synovidos.

“Would you come with me, Hiira-dono?”

“Eh, ah. . .okay.”

He reached out his hand and I took it as if being swept away.

In an instant, a soft light burst forth.

When I opened my eyes to the heavy sensation, my clothes had been changed to a brand new saint’s robe.

“. . .!!”

It was a saint robe woven with the finest silk thread and magic silver thread. It had a pleasantly heavy weight.

The braided cord tied as an accent was gold and crimson. The thin lace veil made me look like a bride.

Lala-san’s purple eyes widened like a surprised cat when she saw me.

Black Dragon-san let out a whistle.

“Synovidos, what is this?”

“I want to give her formal attire. . .Hiira-dono looks good in a saint robe after all.”

“A-Ah, um. . .”

“Well then, let’s go settle everything, Hiira-dono.”

“Your way of speaking is different from usual, Synovidos. . .”

Soft power was put into our connected hands.

I felt like Synovidos laughed softly behind his mask.

――The next moment, the light shone brilliantly and we were in a completely unfamiliar room.

Chapter 49: Real face

“The high ceiling is adorned with colorful frescoes. The floor is covered with a soft, long-haired carpet, and gold decorations are displayed all over the walls. Luxurious fresh flowers are arranged in shiny glass vases.”

“This is. . .”

“The palace.”

“Kyu!”

I screamed in a voice that wouldn’t come out.

“. . .A, haha, you’re joking right?”

“It’s not a joke, Hiira-dono should know that, right?”

“Uh.”

I wanted to laugh it off and say it wasn’t true, but unfortunately, I had visited the palace before when I was scouted as a saint. So, if someone told me this was the palace, I would know it was true.

“Moreover. . .is this place possibly be the. . .”

The towering spires visible outside the window, the angle of the sunlight.

And the color of the walls all clearly indicated where we were in the royal palace.

“Hey, you there!”

The palace guards clad in polished armor gathered around us.

“Who are you?!”

They stared at my halo with fear.

“That wheat halo. . .!! You’re Saint Hiira!!!”

“Ahaha. . .I guess I’m a celebrity even in the palace. . .”

I chuckled while hiding my halo.

They were more interested than I had imagined. Just because it’s a wheat halo doesn’t mean it’s delicious. It’s prickly, so if it gets caught in your hair, it’s quite difficult to remove.

Contrary to my panic, Synovidos calmly faced them with a dignified posture. He exuded an aura of authority that extended to his spine.

“Don’t you know that only I pass through this path?”

“What do you mean?”

“. . .Summon the royal family.. Mention Shinobu Bitou of Igahan.”

“Synovidos. . .Igahan. . .?”

Ah, I guess it sounds like that.

“. . .It might be better to say that a suspicious person in black clothes appeared in the Friendship Corridor.”

I felt a slightly sarcastic nuance mixed in with the continued voice.

“A-Anyway, we’ll hear your story after we capture you. . .Put your hands up!”

The royal guard who couldn’t understand Synovidos’ words ended up resorting to force.

Clang. At the moment when the unpleasant sound of metal was made and the sword was drawn from its sheath.

“Put away your sword!!”

A noble prince with a clear and resonant voice came clanking from the back.

“Your Highness!”

The royal guards were in a commotion and all kneeled down and bowed their heads.

“. . .[Whoever knows the name of the Friendship Corridor and has a foreign name, no matter when he appears, the palace will welcome him with the same treatment as the king]. I never thought he would really appear.”

Shining golden hair tied up long and blue eyes. A noble azure mantle with a brilliantly dyed white emblem.

The noble prince, who had a splendid physique but was intellectual and had a sense of nobility that made it unthinkable to raise his hand to women and children, muttered something to Synovidos and looked at him.

“Are you the heir?”

Synovidos said. What, what are they talking about?

The noble prince then knelt down in front of Synovidos.

“I am the first prince, Slead. I will guide you to the throne room. Please come with me and Miss Saint Hiira, the silver saint who is with you.”

What happened?

What’s going on? Huh? The prince? The prince is kneeling down???

As I tried to kneel down, Synovidos stopped me with a single word, “That’s enough.”

“Hiira-dono is a guest and my friend. . .If you do as I say, there’s no need to worry.”

ーーー

The ceiling was so high that even 50 people on top of each other wouldn’t reach it.

Beyond the long carpet that seemed like it wouldn’t even reach with 100 people holding hands, the king was present.

When I bowed to greet them, I was allowed to stand up.

Meanwhile, Synovidos remained motionless.

During the time it took for me and Synovidos to arrive at the throne room (the hallway was so long that we had to take a break), important ministers and members of the royal family had gathered.

Some had stern faces, some looked flustered and confused, and some seemed sleepy.

Everyone looked like they had been urgently summoned.

Wait a minute.

Who is Bitou Shinobu, Synovidos, who can summon all members of the royal family?

I stood next to him, hiding beside his tall figure like his servant.

“It’s okay.”

He gently placed his hand on my trembling shoulder due to nervousness.

“Hiira-dono just needs to stand tall.”

Synovidos’ voice, which I could only hear, was gentle. It was strange that I could always feel relieved and calm with him, even in such an absurd place, as he touched my shoulder.

“Thank you. . .”

The saint’s robe was heavy, but it was comfortable to wear. The veil that swayed with every movement felt somewhat embarrassing.

As if trying to distract myself, I peeked at the throne.

There sat His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Queen.

Below them were the Crown Prince, the Second Prince, and the First Princess.

The king, who was around 40 years old and still had a greasy appearance, had a well-trained body with a straightened back and a tightened atmosphere. He had a stern face and was staring at Synovidos with a fierce look.

Her Majesty the Queen still looks like a woman in her twenties with black hair, and she doesn’t hide her agitation.

The reason why she looks almost the same age as the Crown Prince is that she became the queen after the former queen, who was around the same age as the Crown Prince, passed away during childbirth.

The Crown Prince is the blond nobleman we met earlier.

The Second Prince is Kasdar’s contemporary, a brown-haired older brother who seems full of youthful vigor.

The black-haired princess is still small, sitting with an incomprehensible expression while being held and comforted by her nursemaid.

She’s so cute.

Even though they were sitting in a grand place wearing luxurious dresses, it was strange how the presence of an infant made me feel like “oh, these people are human too.”

As I was escaping from reality, I heard the king’s voice.

“. . .I can’t believe the first king’s will was true.”

They looked down at Synovidos and stood up, bowing politely.

Wait, the royal family is standing up?! For Synovidos?!

“I am the 13th king of Lucidia, Sadin. Nice to meet you for the first time.”

However, Synovidos answered with a terribly cold voice.

“I regret that this is our first meeting.”

“What?”

The king was speechless. It was probably the most disrespectful treatment he had ever received in his life.

Synovidos looked at me and whispered, bending his back slightly.

“Hiira-dono, you’ll float a little.”

“Eh, float?”

“Excuse me.”

After declining, Synovidos put his arm around my waist and we floated up.

“Huh?!”

The nobles were in an uproar. I held onto him tightly, gasping for breath.

Synovidos straightened his back and faced the king head-on.

“The current king is a descendant of my best friend. It’s quite a status to be on the side looking down on me from the throne.”

“You. . .”

I see, that’s why we’re floating.

Synovidos was naturally floating, but the king looked very uncomfortable. It seemed like they had different perceptions of the situation.

Or maybe I just couldn’t think of anything else because I was floating.

Swallowing my scream, I clung to Synovidos to avoid falling. As a flour-type saint, I couldn’t fly on my own and had to eat flour from all the abilities to activate it in an emergency.

“Your Majesty.”

Synovidos spoke quietly but clearly.

“I came here today to confirm your intentions.”

Synovidos gently put his hand on his mask. I was stunned. His long, bony hand covered the mask, and it easily came off with a snap, revealing his face.

In an instant,

The black attire spread out and covered my field of vision. It was a storm. I, along with the other nobles, covered my face from the gusts of wind.

“. . .hmm. . .”

The scent that floated on the wind was the familiar smell of the forest.

It was the scent that Lala-san said smelled like sandalwood. And it had a warm and gentle magic that enveloped me.

Together with the black clothes, long black hair spread out gracefully like the night sky.

As the swirling black clothes settled down, a beautifully sculpted face was revealed.

There were dignified eyebrows, a nose with beautiful contours, and even the shape of the throat, chin, and ears that could be seen from under the black clothes were familiar.

He was a tall man whom I had looked up to countless times like this.

“. . .Demon King-sama. . .”

“Ah.”

Demon King Synovidos-sama smiled thinly.

Chapter 50: Best friends hundreds of years ago

Upon hearing my words, I felt a sense of everyone in the throne room holding their breath.

“The human king, descendant of my dear friend.”

Synovidos spoke with Demon King-sama’s face, Demon King-sama’s language, and Demon King-sama’s voice, staring at the throne.

I felt the discomfort I had been holding onto melt away like snow.

That’s right. Although he changed the tone of his voice, it was certainly the same low, gentle, and calm voice.

“Answer my question. Why did the royal family abandon the promise made since the first king, Eitzicht?”

He asked the king sharply with a stern voice.

“The Lucidia royal family and the Demon King made a pledge of friendship, promising to greet me upon their ascensions after the coronation ceremony.”

――Is it just my imagination that Synovidos’ voice sounds somewhat sorrowful?

“What are you talking about?”

Amidst the commotion, the king faced Demon King Synovidos-sama’s gaze head-on. As a king, he seemed to be able to face the sudden appearance of a man in black clothing who turned out to be Demon King-sama calmly.

The king slowly asked Demon King Synovidos-sama to confirm.

“Isn’t it because of the power of the first king that the Demon King, who commanded the ancient god Black Dragon, is now subservient?”

“. . .As I suspected, the legend has been lost. I had a vague idea from the treatment I received at the Friendship Corridor.”

Demon King Synovidos-sama bit his lip and shook his head slightly.

“Your Majesty. I was never subservient to you. The first king, Lord Eitzicht, and I were close friends with a common goal.”

“What is the Demon King talking about!”

“Even that story hasn’t been passed down to the royal family. Have you neglected to read the memoirs of the first Eitzicht?”

“. . .Huh?!”

The king was astonished.

“Why would the Demon King know about the national treasure that is only mentioned during the coronation ceremony?”

“If it’s just a formality, then it makes sense for nobles like Kasdar Streltsy to exist.”

He called out Kasdar’s name and showed clear disgust.

Demon King Synovidos-sama stretched out his long fingers and pointed to the curtain that concealed the back of the king and queen.

With a rough sound, the curtain was opened by magic.

From within, the portrait of the first king appeared.

“Your Majesty, what do you see in this?”

“This is a portrait that is only shown during the coronation ceremony and the founding anniversary. . .”

It was the solemn figure of the first king sitting in the darkness with a gentle smile.

To me, it looked like the left side of the portrait was unnaturally empty.

“Did you erase the Demon King’s existence?”

A wrinkle appeared on Demon King Synovidos-sama’s forehead. The king quickly retorted.

“The black part on the left represents darkness, in other words, the Demon King. Isn’t that the meaning that the first king ruled over the heretical black dragon and the demon king and was glaring at them?”

“You don’t have to lie. I know the true picture of this.”

“If it’s a lie, then I. . .”

In the eyes of Demon King Synovidos-sama, who had been filled with anger and severity until then, a hint of pity mixed in.

Perhaps it was compassion for the king who had been placed on the throne in ignorance.

“. . .Descendants who were not informed. I will show you my true form.”

As Demon King Synovidos-sama waved his hand, the black paint on the painting disappeared as if it were being sucked away. In its place appeared a painting of the king sitting on the throne in the shining palace garden, looking ahead with a black-haired man beside him.

The room became noisy.

The reason was that the man depicted in the painting and Demon King Synovidos-sama had exactly the same appearance.

“What on earth. . .”

“This is. . .”

The nobles were in an uproar, and the clergymen turned pale and gripped their staffs.

The king, although pale, remained silent and attentive to the truth he had not been informed of.

Demon King Synovidos-sama turned his gaze to all the people gathered in the audience room and made his palm glow.

“I will show you. . .the promise between me and the first king.”

A dazzling light burst forth like the setting sun. A story flowed into their minds.

❂❂❂

――Several hundred years ago, at Yarilas Beach on the southern tip of Draco Cocoon Peninsula.

The young king of a small kingdom rescued a black-haired man who had washed ashore with the wreckage of many ships that had run aground.

While using magic to translate, the two exchanged conversation.

“I see, so you were a king from a distant foreign country.”

As they conversed with the help of magic translation, the young king, Eitzicht, the future first king of the Lucidia Kingdom, listened to the man’s story and sympathized with him, as they shared a similar fate.

“Shinobu-dono. Actually, I also lost the previous generation and the royal family in battle and became a lord at a young age, just like you. I feel your pain as if it were my own. If you don’t mind, would you become my friend in my country?”

“. . .My benefactor, please don’t help me. I am a man who couldn’t protect his country.”

“Shinobu-dono, please use your experience for the peace of our country. Let’s create a country where no one is sad together.”

“If that’s what you want. . .I will live the rest of my life for you, Lord Eitzicht.”

The manーーShinobu took Eitzicht’s outstretched hand.

The man who had lost everything decided to make up for his lost homeland by becoming Eitzicht’s strength and protecting his country.

Afterwards, it was discovered that Shinobu was a powerful supernatural being loved by the earth.

At the recommendation of the young king Eitzicht, he went to meet the land god, The Black Dragon, enshrined in the sacred mountain, Kuze, and was able to communicate with him.

The giant rock at the summit of the sacred mountain, Kuze, which had turned into a black dragon, awakened and stretched out to look down on the visitor.

“You have a rare soul, young man. You’re not from around here.”

Chapter 51: Faith and Politics

Pointing with its large foreleg, Shinobu also points to himself.

“Are you talking about me. . .? What exactly is magic power?”

“I see, so you’re born in a land where you don’t know how to use magic. But you have a delicious-looking soul. Do you have the blood of some land god?”

“I don’t really understand magic power, but. . .come to think of it, my family, the Bitou family, has been serving as priests for the island’s gods for generations.”

“I see, I understand. So, you’re the same as the [saint].”

“I’m a man, though. . .”

Eitzicht explains to Shinobu, who looks confused.

“[Saint] refers to those who possess extraordinary abilities loved by the earth. They are born in the Draco Cocoon Peninsula and have the power of healing. Unlike ordinary magic power, they can draw out the spiritual power of the land gods. They are called saints because there are many women, but there are also a few men.”

“So, you’re close to being one of those rare men. Look.”

The black dragon stretches out its foreleg and touches Shinobu’s head. Dazzling light is emitted, and a large halo appears above Shinobu’s head.

Eitzicht next to him widens his eyes.

“So, Shinobu. . .you’re a holder of the saint’s extraordinary ability. . .”

“. . .Loved by the earth. . .”

Shinobu had been staring at the halo above his head for a while, but he finally made up his mind and made a request to the black dragon.

“For the peace of the Draco Cocoon Peninsula, oh spirit beast of the [earth], please lend me your power.”

“Sure thing. It’s interesting, so I’ll help you out.”

The black dragon replied without hesitation.

“However, you have to hold my reins. I’m just a beast who doesn’t understand what humans like. So, you can handle me and use me in a way that is convenient for humans.”

“Is that okay?”

Shinobu was puzzled by the unexpected consent of the black dragon.

“. . .Even if you entrust the [Earth] to me, to the foolish ruler who survived by destroying the country.”

Still, the black dragon’s attitude did not change.

“It’s fine. I don’t know what humans will like, whether it’s the [Earth] or how to stop the war in the Draco Cocoon Peninsula. But if it’s you, you’ve failed once, so you should know how to stop it, right?”

“. . .Thank you.”

And the black dragon separated its huge body from the sacred mountain Kuze and made a contract with Shinobu.

In exchange for losing the halo, Shinobu became the master of the black dragon.

Eitzicht, who was accompanying them, was excited about the contract between the two.

“Amazing.”

Eitzicht raised a cry of joy and shouted with Shinobu, putting his arm around him.

“You have accomplished something incredible, Shinobu-dono! You are the Demon King! A man who can connect with demon beasts and spirits with an enormous amount of magic power that this country has never seen before. Let’s call you the Demon King in that sense!”

“A king, huh.”

Contrary to the excited Eitzicht, Shinobu showed reluctance.

“I’m not fit to be a king.”

However, Eitzicht later established Shinobu as the “Demon King” and spread the word not only throughout the country but also to enemy countries.

“Shinobu. Please call yourself a king to show that you are on an equal footing with me, who is also a king.”

“. . .If you, my friend, say so.”

ーーAnd with the help of Bitou Shinobu, who became the Demon King, thirty years passed.

When the young king reached his mid-fifties with white hair mixed in, he finally unified the Draco Cocoon Peninsula.

Their long-cherished wish, a peaceful reign, had arrived.

“I am grateful, Demon King Shinobu-dono. Thanks to you, the Lucidia Kingdom has grown this big.”

Eitzicht’s eyes were filled with tears.

The Demon King Shinobu, who had made a contract with the black dragon, remained in his youthful appearance with black hair from the time of the contract.

“Shinobu-dono. Let’s protect the Draco Cocoon Peninsula together. I will be the king with a limited lifespan, and Shinobu-dono will be the immortal Demon King.”

The Demon King Shinobu nodded with a gentle smile.

“Eitzicht-dono. I will live in the castle at the base of the peninsula as the Demon King to ensure that the kingdom is forever protected from external enemies. I will let demon beasts and monsters live there, so if you need anything, feel free to come.”

“Thank you. Then let me also swear. The royal family swears to never forget our respect, gratitude, and friendship towards the Demon King and to continue to have exchanges with you at every milestone. And I will create a [Corridor of Friendship] connected by magic so that you can come and visit the royal family anytime. And please lend your heart to the nobles so that they do not become complacent in this peaceful reign.”

“Of course. I will also cherish all of them like my own children.”

“I see.”

The dreams of the Demon King Shinobu and the young king came true, and they had a portrait painted as proof of their friendship.

ーーSeeing the satisfied expression of the Demon King Shinobu, the Black Dragon muttered to himself.

“But, Demon King-sama. You have become immortal like me, but humans change generations. So, someday, you may be betrayed without knowing it.”

“Betrayal? How could I possibly be betrayed? I will continue to believe in him, who wished for peace, and his descendants.”

❂❂❂

At the moment the light disappeared, everyone fell silent.

Everything made sense.

“Don’t be fooled!!!”

An old man shouted. He was the head of the church, the high priest.

“Don’t be fooled!!! It’s all an illusion of the Demon King!! There’s no way that His Majesty the first King is friends with the Demon King who is in league with the black dragon worshipped by the cult.”

Some people looked relieved at his words.

As expected, everyone hates having what they have believed in so far denied. Especially when the foundation of their religion is being denied.

Synovidos just looked down at the high priest who was spitting out saliva in silence.

“I see. So, to strengthen the authority of the royal family, the priests who worship the king as a god have made me into a demon king to increase their power.”

“Wha. . .!!”

“Well, that’s not all. If it’s a reign that lasts for hundreds of years, anyone would have used me as a convenient pawn in their power struggle. If, as a result, this long-lasting rule has been maintained. . .then maybe I was worth it. However. . .”

Looking at the faces of the king and the church, Synovidos shook his head.

“It’s a sad thing. . .to be told by someone with the same face as Eitzicht who didn’t know. . .”

His downturned profile looked terribly sad, and I instinctively held his hand.”

I was happy when Demon King-sama gently squeezed my hand back.

“It’s also my fault that I’ve been stubbornly protecting this country without confirming that the promise was lost. Therefore, from now on, you can spread the word that I, the Demon King, am a subordinate of the royal family and treat me as an imaginary enemy. However, there is a condition.”

“Ah.”

The next moment, Demon King-sama pulled me strongly and glared at everyone.

“As long as she, the silver Saint Hiira Seamacy, safely operates the saint cafeteria, I promise to protect Lucidia Kingdom with the blessing of the black dragon as a [Demon King] in the right sense as before. Currently, her cafeteria has suffered significant damage due to the propaganda of multiple noble families. Unless you immediately resolve everything that hinders her business, I will become a disaster as the [Demon King] you desire and burn everything to the ground.”

Demon King-sama muttered something.

At that moment, lightning struck and burned the portrait that showed their friendship.

“No. . .”

It was the king who screamed.

However, in the midst of the silence, the young princess began to cry with a high-pitched, piercing voice.

“Bie. . .bieeeeeee!!!”

Her crying voice echoed in the quiet audience room.

“Princess, it’s okay, please calm down. . .”

“Eeeeeen!! Eeeeeen!! Ugh, ugh.”

“Princess, Princess. . .!”

The nursemaid was pale and trying to comfort her.

Demon King Synovidos-sama, who was watching, suddenly became just a kind man.

While still holding onto me, Demon King Synovidos-sama floated in the air and bent his knees to meet the princess’s height.

“Princess, I’m sorry.”

“S-sob.”

“H-h-help. . .”

Even the nursemaid looked like she was about to burst into tears.

Demon King Synovidos-sama frowned and smiled at the princess, wiping away the tears from her eyes.

“. . .The child is innocent. Please become a wise and happy princess.”

Demon King Synovidos-sama kissed her forehead with soft fuzz. The crying princess suddenly cheered up and looked at him happily.

“Ojii-chan. . .thank you.”

“. . .”

“Bye-bye, Ojii-chan.”

“Ojii-chan. . .”

At that moment.

The hot-blooded second prince interrupted between his younger sister and Demon King Synovidos-sama.

He was trembling with a sword in his hand, desperately trying to protect his sister.

“Princess!! This guy is the enemy!!!”

I couldn’t help but interject.

“It’s okay, Demon King-sama wouldn’t do such a thing. . .”

“It’s fine, Hiira-dono.”

Demon King Synovidos-sama looked a little sad and looked at me.

“Let’s go. . .Ojii-chan should be returning soon.”

ーーWhy did he look sad and call him Ojii-chan?

It wasn’t the right atmosphere to make such a tactless comment, so Demon King-sama and I left as is.

“. . .Demon King.”

The king muttered as if groaning.

Ojii-san, who had become lost somewhere, had a lost expression on his face.

“. . .if it’s true. . .my royal family has done something to you. . .”

Chapter 52: Lala and Black Dragon

ーーMeanwhile.

Lala and the Black Dragon were sitting knee-to-knee, talking in the Saint Cafeteria.

For the Black Dragon, interacting with someone other than the Demon King seemed enjoyable, and he happily answered the interview questions in his young male form.

Even in his human form, he was a man with a body about two sizes larger than Lala’s.

“I see, I understand.”

Lala summarized the truth she had heard from the Black Dragon, holding a notebook in one hand.

“Synovidos is the Demon King. The Demon King’s real name is Shinobu Bitou. He was a man with Saint abilities. He cooperated with the first king to unify Draco Cocoon and became the Demon King by making a contract with the Black Dragon. But. . .due to the flow of time, he was eventually labeled as the ‘Demon King of Draco Cocoon who was conquered by the first king.’”

“I see.”

By the way, since they had made a master-servant contract, the Black Dragon Seemed unable to say the name of the Demon King – Shinobu Bitou – out loud.

Even when explaining it to Lala, he explained it like, “The ‘B’ in beer, the ‘T’ in Thomas. And. . .”

Lala understood the story, but still had a question.

“But he had Saint abilities, right? Why doesn’t he have a halo?”

“I ate it when we made the contract.”

“You can eat it?!”

“The taste is completely different depending on the quality and strength of the magic. The halo of the Demon King tasted like dashi made from wakame seaweed. I wonder what Hiira-chan’s halo tastes like.”

“Don’t eat hers, please. . .”

Hiira had said before that the halo was a delicate part that would be uncomfortable if touched by others.

How much pain did the Demon King have to endure to have it eaten?

Lala closed her notebook and sighed,

“So, for the sake of the country, he even made him eat the halo and have been unlucky all along. . .”

“Yeah, Hiira-chan and Demon King-sama are so alike.”

“Really. Listening to the story, in the end, that demon king seems like he’ll forgive the kingdom.”

The more they listened to the story, the more unreasonable it seemed.

“Well, he’s someone who endures too much when it comes to himself, but this time he has a purpose to protect Hiira-chan. He’ll come back after settling things properly.”

“That’s right. Hiira will do anything for self-sacrifice, but she’s a child who can stand up properly to protect someone. I’m sure Hiira will be okay.”

“On the other hand, he can’t stand up unless it’s such a time~.”

“Really, that’s true.”

“It’s dangerous~.”

“Hey~.”

Lala, who relied heavily on Hiira at the party, and the black dragon who ate the halo of the Demon King and formed a contract.

Both felt guilty for burdening each other’s lives and smiled wryly as they looked at each other.

“Oh, right. Hiira made some pancakes and left them in the fridge. Let’s eat them together.”

“Wow, sounds good.”

“Don’t just sit there. Help me with the preparations.”

“Hehe.”

Lala knew that it wasn’t the time to joke around while eating the pancakes that Hiira had made and left for them. However, having the luxury to laugh allowed them to think about various things.

Eating something sweet naturally brings a sense of ease and laughter.

By the way, what they were eating was a simple and sweet dessert made by rolling a thin layer of sweet dough cooked on a frying pan and sprinkled with honey, chocolate sauce, or sugar. Lala wanted to eat it like a black dragon, all sticky and sweet, but as an office worker, she had to restrain herself. So she just put a little honey on the sweet dough, folded it in four, and put it in her mouth.

The bitter green tea made from high-quality tea leaves went well with the sweet dessert.

“By the way, I heard that the birth of a saint is also one of the blessings of the earth, but why does Hiira’s saint ability come from wheat flour?”

“I don’t know. No idea.”

It was one of Lala’s biggest questions. But the black dragon said with a nonchalant face.

“You don’t know even though you’re the earth.”

“I’m sure it’s not me. I think it’s Demon King-sama’s wish that naturally intertwines with the land’s magic power and produces an effect.”

While picking at the thinly baked dough and eating it, the black dragon narrowed his eyes.

“It’s sweet.”

“What is the wish of the Demon King Synovidos? Tell me.”

“Well, the ability to produce wheat flour that can be quickly baked and eaten to regain strength, even for people who have lost everything, is highly valued in the land devastated by war.”

“. . .So, the wish was for someone like Hiira to be born, so that the people wouldn’t go hungry under the Demon King Synovidos?”

“Yeah, that’s right. Beasts and humans alike, good food is essential, you know, the basics. I understand that much too.”

“Indeed. . .”

Hiira’s cooking was always simple and gentle in taste.

She always made everyone happy by quickly preparing meals for them.

As she shone her halo and sprinkled flour, enjoying cooking, she felt like she knew the origin of happiness.

“Maybe the reason she can’t use fire magic for cooking is because she wants to sit around the table with the people around her.”

“Hey, aren’t you overthinking it?”

“Don’t be rude and interrupt! I said something good!”

“Hahaha. But that’s not the truth, you know.”

After drinking her tea and thinking for a while, Lala spoke to the black dragon.

“Hey, Black Dragon.”

“Hmm?”

“If Hiira and Demon King Synovidos are in trouble, please protect them without hesitation.”

Opening his glittering golden eyes wide, the black dragon tilted his head.

“Of course, I’ll do that, but why are you suddenly saying that?”

“Hiira is protecting me and the staff’s livelihoods, right? So maybe there are times when she can’t just cut that off and run away. But. . .I’m doing my best behind the scenes to make sure that even if she closes the dining hall, we’ll be okay. So even if those two hesitate or resist, they must be protected.”

The black dragon smiled, showing his fangs.

“Understood. If it’s a request from Lala-chan, a fellow villager who still remembers me, I’ll be happy to listen.”

“Thank you.”

Lala smiled and looked up at the sky.

“. . .I wish they would come back soon. I want to talk about our plans for tomorrow and beyond.”

“Yeah, that’s right. We’ll eat everything!”

“Black Dragon, don’t eat too much!”

The two of them were waiting for the Demon King Synovidos and Hiira.

They laughed again, hoping to open the dining hall soon.

Chapter 53: Vivian Paswest

A few days after the commotion caused by the Demon King, in the royal palace.

ーーStreltsy family, townhouse in the capital.

A mournful scream echoed through the hallway.

“Are you kidding me, brother!! I only made it widely known for the sake of the kingdom that Hiira was in league with the Demon King. I. . .I did it for the sake of the country!!!”

Pushing away the clinging arm, Teimayoş, the legitimate son of the Streltsy family, looked down on his foolish younger brother with a contemptuous gaze.

“You have no right to call me your brother. . .consider yourself lucky to be alive. From now on, you will spend your life as a servant in Streltsy territory. It’s because of you that we lost a third of the richest plain in our territory, you fool.”

“T-That’s a mistake, brother, that’s. . .”

“At least serve the territory for the rest of your life and never show your face to me again.”

Teimayoş looked down on Kasdar, who was lying on the floor, clicked his tongue, and left quickly, tapping his shoes.

Kasdar watched his brother leave in despair.

“It’s a lie I. . .I had Vivian, who had connections to the inner palace, prepare everything. . .there shouldn’t have been any mistakes.”

Saliva and tears dripped onto the carpet. He clenched them tightly and gritted his teeth.

(That’s right. It was Vivian who introduced me to the publishing company.)

“If it’s Vivian. . .if it’s her, she’ll be on my side.”

She was a daughter of the Paswest family.

If the Paswest family, which boasted a great position through donations to the church and the expulsion of priests, became his backer, the disinheritance would be revoked. Even if he was disowned, he could still manage with the Paswest family’s connections.

Moreover, Kasdar had a faint smile on his face despite the emergency.

If that Vivian had felt responsible and married him, Kasdar would have been safe no matter what. He could even threaten her a little. Since Vivian was in love with Kasdar, he could use this responsibility to his advantage.

Kasdar headed to the Paswest family’s townhouse in the capital without any attendants. However, even after announcing his name and talking about Vivian, he couldn’t even enter the gate.

“What’s going on?! I’m Kasdar Streltsy, the leader of the demon king subjugation party that Vivian belongs to! Let me see her!”

Even when he tried to grab the gatekeeper’s collar, the gatekeeper frowned and didn’t even look at him.

At that moment, a luxurious carriage approached the gate on the cobblestone road.

Kasdar turned around and couldn’t help but smile. The savior was here.

The carriage was clearly for noblewomen. Vivian was probably inside.

“Vivian!!! It’s me, Kasdar!! Open up!!!”

“Hey, you!!! Don’t climb up!!!”

Unable to bear it, Kasdar climbed onto the carriage with bloodshot eyes and forcefully opened the door.

There was Vivian, dressed in a familiar dress with soft hair.

However, when she saw Kasdar, she clung to her attendant maid and screamed in a high-pitched voice.

“Ahhhh!!! Someone, anyone!!!”

“Hey, Vivian, it’s me, Kasdar. . .Don’t pretend you don’t know me, damn it!!!”

“Kyaa, I don’t know, I don’t know, please stop, help me. . .!”

Kasdar suddenly felt something was off.

She was wearing a blouse that tightly closed her chest and a long skirt that covered her toes, which was different from the saint’s robe that emphasized her voluptuous body. Her tone of voice was also completely different. Moreover, her hair color was not silver, but a light ash blonde. Her tearful eyes were brown.

――And there was no halo above her head.

“Wait a minute. . .Who are you. . .”

“I am Vivian, as you said. . .!”

“Are you kidding me? Hey, are you her sister or something? You have the exact same face as the saint!!”

Kasdar pushed the maid aside and forcibly grabbed Vivian’s shoulder. She answered while trembling and crying.

“I-I’m not. I’m just an ordinary person with no abilities. . .I don’t have any sisters. . .”

“Then!!! Is there no saint?! Do you really not exist??!?!”

“My grandfather. . .”

“. . .What?”

She answered while trembling and sobbing.

“I-It’s my grandfather. . .has the power of the [saint]. . .!”

“Your grandfather. . .?”

Kasdar was then restrained, tied up behind his back, and knocked unconscious.

In his fading consciousness, he remembered.

ーーThat’s right, not only women can be saints.

The power of being loved by the earth can also occur in men, albeit rarely.

Most of them hide their halos with some kind of treatment, so Kasdar had forgotten that it could also be born in men.

Lord Paswest. He is the current Prime Minister.

Chapter 54: One month later

ーーIt’s been a month since I stormed into the palace.

Now, the number of customers has returned to normal as if the commotion never happened. In fact, it has increased beyond normal.

“I was worried about what would happen, but surprisingly, everything worked out.”

“Oh, Lala-san, I’m sorry for causing you trouble. . .”

The day after we stormed in, the court immediately issued a correction article to the gossip papers, and the honor of the Saint Cafeteria was restored. Moreover, we were recognized as a member of the Capital Commerce and Industry Association, and our position as a splendid Saint Cafeteria was finally established.

After the morning takeout rush.

Lala-san chuckled as she read the article about the Saint Cafeteria in the newspaper while taking a break.

Lala-san and I shared everything that happened that day at the court and the conversation Black Dragon-san had with her.

“[Saint Hiira, who prevented the expansion of the Demon King’s power and promoted a ceasefire, and whose achievements in purifying the pollution of the land near the demon beast forest should be recorded in the founding history as a great achievement]. . .Geez, they say that a lot.”

I also received the newspaper from Lala-san and read the article.

“They still write about Demon King-sama as a villain.”

“That may be inevitable for the dignity of the church and the kingdom. After all, they have been uniting the country against the Demon King’s power as a hypothetical enemy. But our country is peaceful, so even if they try to create a new hypothetical enemy, it’s difficult.”

It can’t be helped.

I let out a sigh and quietly turned my gaze to Synovidos, who was taking care of the garden. Synovidos was still wearing black clothes and a mask with an old-fashioned tone as usual.

He said, “I don’t feel comfortable in Demon King mode, so I’ll stay as the usual Synovidos~.”

“By the way, Hiira. Another letter arrived from the church.”

“Oh. . .is it about making this shop affiliated with the church?”

It seems that the church wants to bring me under their control, and I have been receiving recruitment letters asking if I want to make Saint Cafeteria affiliated with the church since that day.

“Well, there are some benefits to being affiliated with the church. You can get tax exemptions, and you can openly perform healing acts as a saint.”

“Stop it. You won’t be able to cook your favorite dishes, and the procedures will become troublesome. You might even be taken over.”

“That’s true.”

I chuckled.

This place is only open as Saint Cafeteria because I’m doing it my way without relying on the backing of the church. Now that I have the support of Demon King-sama, even if I have to pay taxes, it’s okay to continue like this. Besides, there’s Lala-san in charge of accounting.

“However, it might be a good idea to proceed with the approval for the second store in the capital.”

“The second store?. . .I don’t have the capacity to make it.”

“Hiira can stay here. The staff will make it.”

Lala-san raised her finger as if to say, “Let me explain!”

“In case Hiira wants to fold this place.”

“N-No, It fold.”

“Just in case, you know.”

Lala-san emphasized.

“As long as we have permission for the second store, the staff won’t lose their jobs for the time being. I’ve also made connections with the Commerce and Industry Association in the capital and found some reliable people to rely on.”

“Lala-san. . .”

“That’s why.”

With a serious expression, Lala-san held both of my hands.

“Synovidos. . .If you want to set him free, you can escape with him anytime.”

“Lala-san.”

“Even if he’s free, Synovidos is still misunderstood as the [Evil Demon King]. That’s. . .just delaying the solution. Hiira is worried about it too, right?”

Behind her glasses, her beautiful eyes with amethysts seemed to be staring at me.

I tried to laugh it off, but I couldn’t.

“. . .You understand me well.”

“You’re that kind of person. You can’t stand it when someone is drawing the short straw. That’s why you helped me, the staff, and the people of Maytart Village. . .That’s why you must be hurting for Synovidos too.”

Lala-san’s grip on my hand tightened.

“Okay? No matter what happens, I’ll stand tough with the staff. As thanks for what he and Hiira did for me, I want to be a force for the two of them too. So. . .when the time comes to make Synovidos quit being Demon King-sama, don’t hesitate to ask for my help.”

“Lala-san. . .”

Lala-san’s strong words made my heart feel warm.

Before tears could well up, I nodded at Lala-san with a smile.

“Thank you very much! It may still be difficult to become free, but someday, if such a chance comes, I will take action. Please help me then!”

“Leave it to me. Your delicious food will be enough as a reward.”

I’m happy with Lala-san’s mischievous words.

I looked again at Synovidos, who was watering the flowers in the garden.

――The day when I can free him.

It unexpectedly came soon.

Chapter 55: Hiira’s Happiness

Night.

Lala-san had some business in the capital, so it was just Synovidos and me at the Saint’s dining hall for dinner.

As I prepared the dishes for dinner, Synovidos, who had finished cleaning and tidying up the shop, came back.

“Oh, it looks delicious!”

He looked happily at the table with his mask still on.

“Soup pasta made with the vegetable soup we served for lunch. . .and gratin?”

“Yeah. Remember the chicken croquettes we made for lunch? I used the leftover minced meat, potatoes, and onions to make it.”

“I see. The ingredients are almost the same, but it’s amazing.”

“Thank you for the compliment. Let’s eat quickly.”

“Yes. I’ll go wash my hands.”

We set up one of the tables at the Saint’s dining hall and had dinner together.

Before we started eating, Synovidos casually took off his mask.

His long black hair spread out softly, and his beautiful face, illuminated by the lamp, was revealed――he became Shinobu Bitou.

I felt a little embarrassed and couldn’t look at him directly.

“It’s been a while since we’ve been alone together.”

“Yeah, that’s right.”

“Your tone is all mixed up, Shinobu-san.”

“Hahaha. . .sorry. Hiira-dono, which one do you prefer?”

“Um. . .I don’t know. Whichever is more comfortable for Shinobu-san.”

“Okay.”

We were both awkward. We still weren’t used to talking to each other like this with our true faces revealed.

“By the way, what about Black Dragon-san?”

“He followed Lala-dono because he was worried about her. It was just a pretext, he simply wanted to look at the capital.”

“Freedom, huh.”

He, now known as Shinobu-san, narrowed his golden eyes and laughed. He must be thinking about Black Dragon-san.

“. . .He also wants to be free. Actually.”

“Is it difficult to be free?”

“If I break the contract with me now, the forgotten old gods will disappear from the people.”

“Eh. . .”

“Because the kingdom has replaced the worship of land gods with the worship of the first king.”

“I see. . .it’s difficult to be free.”

“I’m sorry. This wasn’t a conversation to have before dinner. The homemade food will get cold.”

As if cutting off the topic, Shinobu-san spoke in a bright voice.

“Hiira-dono. First, let’s fill our stomachs. Let’s eat quickly.”

“Y-Yes! Then, Itadakimasu, right!!”

From there, the two of us put our hands together and had dinner.

“Mmm. . .delicious. . .”

As Shinobu-san said, as soon as I tasted the hot soup pasta, I remembered my hunger and my dark feelings disappeared.

The vegetables in the soup pasta were cooked all day, so they were soft and had a gentle taste. Eating it with the noodles made my stomach warm up more and more.

As I was eating with enthusiasm, Shinobu-san was looking at me.

His smile as he brushed his long black hair behind his ear made him seem closer than usual in the lamp-lit space.

“Hiira-dono, you look happy eating.”

“Hahaha. . .I was hungry. I feel happy when I eat delicious food.”

“I’m happy too. . .to be able to have a meal with Hiira-dono like this.”

“. . .T-That makes me happy too. . .”

My cheeks grew hot, and I unconsciously looked away. My stomach, which had become warm, and my chest were pounding.

Just watching Shinobu-san chew his food carefully made me feel embarrassed and my face grew hot.

In Synovidos, Demon King-sama, and Shinobu-san.

The strange and uneasy feelings I had towards the two of them gathered and became overwhelming when I was alone with Shinobu-san.

I wonder if I’m eating weirdly. . .

❂❂❂

After finishing the meal, Shinobu-san brewed tea for us.

Then, with a serious expression, he began to speak.

“Hiira-dono, I want to apologize again. . .for not telling you that Synovidos and the Demon King are the same person and deceiving you.”

“I didn’t think you were deceiving me. Are you feeling better?”

With honest feelings, I shook my head.

“Rather, I was happy that you went that far to protect me. . .”

“Hiira-dono. . .”

He was surprised, and then hesitated before continuing to speak.

“As you know. . .I made a contract with the black dragon, who is the earth itself, and had the responsibility of protecting the Lucidia Kingdom. I couldn’t leave the demon king’s castle. . .and from now on, I intend to continue protecting the kingdom as the demon king in this land.”

There was a slight pressure in Shinobu-san’s fingers as he held the teacup.

“. . .I can’t be with you like a normal man. That’s why.”

“Well then.”

I deliberately spoke brightly, covering his words.

I smiled at his golden eyes as I raised my face.

“Well then, I’ll open a saint’s cafeteria here and be by your side forever. Even when I’m old and become a grandmother, let’s eat together as long as I live.”

“But then your life will be sacrificed for me.”

Shinobu-san raised his waist and widened his eyes as if to say it was not a joke.

“You. . .Hiira-dono, please cherish your happiness. Make a family, live peacefully. . .I don’t want to sacrifice not only the black dragon but also your life.”

“Eating together like this is the greatest happiness for me.”

“. . .Uh. . .”

“Hey, Shinobu-san.”

Shinobu-san opened his golden eyes wide and looked at me. It’s a little embarrassing to say the rest.

“I want to eat with the person I want to be with and while I’m alive. Being with the person I love is my happiness. That’s why I want to be with Shinobu-san.”

“Is it okay for me to be that person?”

His voice was trembling.

I also realized that my voice was trembling.

“Is it really okay for me to be by your side? I mean, I said I want to be by your side, but I’m a damaged person, not as beautiful as Lala-san, and I’m clumsy. Sorry for saying weird things. Besides,. . .”

I became more and more awkward and spoke faster.

“Ah. . .should I make tea again?”

Clatter. As I stood up, embarrassed, I was suddenly hugged tightly.

He hugged me tightly.

Shinobu-san’s hoarse voice whispered above my head.

“I won’t let you say that ‘I’m not good enough for you’ again.”

“Shinobu-san. . .”

“Call me Shinobu.”

Shinobu-san wrapped both hands around my cheeks and gently lifted my face.

“I love you, Hiira-dono.”

“. . .Such. . .me.”

My words were sealed with his lips.

When I opened my eyes, Shinobu-san’s eyes were so close that I couldn’t focus.

“I won’t let you say it again.”

Shinobu-san murmured in a hoarse voice.

“I don’t want to make you unhappy, but if being with me makes you happy. . .I won’t hold back.”

With gentle eyes, he looked at me with a painful expression, and his eyes narrowed. As his big hand touched me, I felt his body temperature. I wasn’t afraid of being touched. On the contrary, I felt happy being touched like this.

Ah, I felt it with my whole body that I liked this person. My heart was full, and I couldn’t say anything anymore.

The lamp, which had run out of oil, went out with a snap.

In its place, the halo softly shone, and Shinobu-san held me in his arms and murmured to himself.

“I’m glad I met you. . .Even as a long-lived demon king who has become immortal and has drifted away from my best friend. . .I can say that those days were not bad.”

Chapter 56: The saint being swam

“Ah, aaaaah, just because I’m not here, you guyyyyyys!!!!!”

The next morning, we woke up to Lala-san’s scream.

The sun had already risen outside. It felt more like morning or even late morning than early morning.

“Sorryyyyyy!!!”

The staff had already prepared bread and were chuckling as they apologized.

“I’m so sorry! I’ll start working right away! Flourrrr!!”

“Hey, Hiira! We don’t need flour right now!! Serve the customers! Serve them! Synovidos, go to the kitchen!!!”

“Y-Yes!!!”

We hurriedly worked and managed to finish the morning takeout orders. The staff smiled warmly at us.

“Well, it can’t be helped with all the things that happened. Ufufu.”

“Ufufu. . .”

Their gaze seemed to contain various things. . .

I wonder if they found out that I stayed up late listening to Shinobu’s stories and asking for recipes of various dishes from his home country. It was a slightly chilly night, so we got into bed together and talked until we fell asleep. . .

“Hey, Synovidos.”

Lala-san caught Shinobu and slammed him against the wall with a loud thud, looking up at his face.

Her eyes behind the glasses were scary.

“L-Lala-dono.”

“Hey, just because you’re dating Hiira, don’t you dare force her to do anything she doesn’t want to. Do you understand? I won’t stay silent, you know?”

“Y-Yes, of course.”

“It’s annoying to be Synovidos at times like this, seriously”

During the staff’s lunch break, Lala-san called me to the office. After closing the door and being alone, Lala-san looked at me seriously over her glasses.

“Yesterday, I was actually investigating Vivian in the capital.”

“Vivian, you say. . .?”

“I’m also a noble to some extent, but I thought her background as a Paswest noble’s daughter was too strange. She’s likely involved in the Kasdar’s gossip paper scandal, so I investigated her just in case. And then. . .”

Lala-san frowned.

“The Vivian who was at our party may not have been the real Vivian.”

“Eh?”

It was a bolt from the blue.

“The real Miss Vivian was frail and hardly appeared in high society. She was said to be recuperating in a distant territory.”

“It’s a completely different person.”

“Yes. Actually, I also talked to her school friend who knew Vivian, but she had never heard of her being a saint.”

“So, the Vivian-san we met several times was a saint, but someone else.”

Certainly, she had a halo the size of a donut on her head.

The halo is proof of a saint. It’s impossible to create something that doesn’t exist, even if you can hide something.

“Maybe someone else was using magic to disguise themselves. It’s difficult to impersonate a complete stranger, but it’s said that with a high-level magical tool, you can rejuvenate and even change your gender.”

“T-That’s right.”

For example, Shinobu became Demon King-sama and became immortal through a contract with Black Dragon-san.

If a mage puts a tremendous amount of power into a magical tool, they can apparently change their age or gender.

“Of course, there is a price to pay, but if you’re a [saint] with special abilities, you can use a magical tool while healing yourself with saint abilities, right? Even a third-rank copper ability like me, who isn’t as special as Hiira, can do it.”

“But why would they go through the trouble of using such a high-level magical tool just for Kasdar?”

“Kasdar has no value. . .but his achievements do.”

“Oh.”

I remember now.

I had forgotten, but Kasdar was a “genius” who accomplished the feat of injuring Demon King-sama.

“Someone who was interested in Kasdar’s achievements approached him, made you lose your job, and ended up in the Kasdar Party, right?”

“That’s right.”

Lala-san nods.

“Perhaps Vivian (temporary name) expelled Hiira from the party to test Kasdar’s abilities. If she knows the fact that [Hiira used as a shield to injure the Demon King], then Vivian’s aim is even more focused on you, Hiira.”

“Come to think of it, Vivian-san once told me to be careful of Kasdar with an attitude that was clearly different from her usual self.”

“That Vivian is definitely a fake.”

“But who could it be? If it’s a saint, they would be registered with the church, and it’s reckless to impersonate someone else.”

Looking at Lala-san, she already had a face that seemed to have arrived at the answer.

“Who do you think it is, Lala-san?”

“If it’s someone with influence in the upper echelons of the church and their own authority, it would be easy to manipulate saint registration, falsify applications, and even take out magical tools.”

“But saints are basically field saints or technical positions, and they don’t have much authority, do they?”

“If the saint is a woman, that’s true.”

“Ah.”

I looked at her face unintentionally.

And I felt a surge of electricity.

“Vivian’s family, Paswest, has deep connections with the church. Her grandfather, Lord Paswest, is now the Prime Minister.”

As a wheat flour saint, I was in a delicate position in the church, and he was the one who went out of his way to ask me to work at the court.

Once, I was summoned to the court, and he said this to me directly.

“Beloved saint of the earth. Would you like to serve as a wheat flour saint offering meals to the nobles at the royal palace?”

Working at the royal palace as a saint was the best job for a poor viscount’s daughter like me.

However, I had refused the Prime Minister’s words.

He always wore a holy hat―if there was a halo there.

At that moment.

“Excuse me ♡ Is Hiira-san or Shinobu-san here?”

A too sweet and wiggly voice that didn’t fit the situation was heard from outside the cafeteria. There was a fluffy silver-haired beauty saint named Vivian.

Lala-san and I exchanged glances.

“He’s here. . .the old man from Paswest.”

Chapter 57: Hostage

Shinobu, Lala-san, and I gathered at the office.

We set up a table and chairs outside the dining room and bought some time by having the staff make tea while the three of us shared information and came up with a plan.

“They’re obviously wary of the barrier if they only come this far.”

“With my saint barrier, they can’t enter the dining room if they have ill intentions. It’s amazing how they have the nerve to stand there and have a conversation as if nothing is wrong.”

“Anyway, today we’ll pretend not to notice that he’s an old man.”

“Understood.”

“Our top priority is to get him to leave peacefully. Let’s do our best.”

However.

I glanced at Vivian-san. She was holding up her pinky finger and drinking tea with cute wiggling movements, smiling to herself.

“Lala-san, I can’t believe that’s the Prime Minister-sama.”

“Think about it the other way around. If he’s an old man, he’ll try to act like a young woman, and that’s what happens.”

“I see.”

I patted my cheek and gathered my courage to go see her.

Shinobu followed me in Synovidos’ disguise from behind. Lala-san stayed behind at the office to provide support.

Vivian-san saw us and let out a squeal, smiling.

“Kyaa ♡ Hiira-san, long time no see ♡ I was worried about you because it seemed like you were going through a lot~.”

While gently restraining Vivian-san, who tried to hold my hand, he, Synovidos, in his black attire and masked appearance, stood in front of me.

“I appreciate your concern, but wasn’t it dangerous for a woman to be alone?”

“Oh, that’s okay ♡ Ojii-sama brought a lot of escorts for me ♡.”

She urged me to look back, and there, in the blind spot from the dining room, were rows of holy knights in armor.

“Oh my.”

“. . .Ojii-sama. . . must really care about Vivian-san.”

“Yes ♡ He’s a good Ojii-sama ♡.”

She’s using her granddaughter’s appearance to act spoiled and say that.

While thinking that, I smiled and asked.

“By the way, what brings you here? It’s almost lunchtime, and there will be many customers soon, so it would be great if it’s brief.”

“It’s a simple matter.”

Vivian-san smiled.

“I want you to come to the headquarters of the church. We want to support you in opening the Saint’s cafeteria with peace of mind.”

“Yes. I’ve received a few letters about it, but. . .”

“Everyone at the church was disappointed that you didn’t respond, so I came to ask you. Hey, since the holy knights will protect you, can you come to the capital and listen to our proposal?”

With teary eyes, Vivian-san said with a shy look.

Shinobu casually stopped her from getting closer. Vivian-san puffed her cheeks.

“Ow, Synovidos? Don’t get in the way.”

“Um. . .even if you say that, I’m perfectly satisfied with the current Saint Cafeteria. . .”

“It’s dangerous near the Demon King’s castle! It’s scary, right? The holy knights will guard you, and if something happens to Hiira-san, the Demon King will conquer the world, right? Scary! That’s why I want to protect Hiira-san. Please, if Vivi can’t bring Hiira-san, Ojii-sama will get angry~.”

Vivian-san pleaded with a tone that was close to begging, wriggling around.

Amazing. It’s scary to think that Prime Minister-sama is doing this.

“If she’s going, I’ll go with her.”

Shinobu intervened between Vivian-san, who was trying to grab my hand again, and calmly asked. Vivian-san shook her head.

“But they said to Vivi to bring only Hiira-san, so maybe men can’t come. Besides. . .”

Vivian-san glanced at me and smiled.

“If Synovidos was a man disguised as the Demon King-sama, Vivi would be scared.”

“. . .!!”

I froze.

Vivian, or rather Prime Minister-sama, should have been present during the audience the other day.

She wants to say that she knows that Synovidos is the Demon King-sama.

“But Vivian-san, don’t you know he’s not that kind of person? You’ve even attended parties together.”

“Sure, I went with Synovidos, but I’ve never seen his face before, and it’s scary.”

Vivian-san took an attitude that seemed to say she was scared.

What should I do? I glanced at Shinobu and exchanged eye contact.

“Besides, Hiira-san.”

She glanced at me and then said something outrageous.

“Actually, they’re gathering everyone from the monastery where Hiira-san used to be at the headquarters of the church.”

“. . .Huh. . .everyone from the monastery. . .?”

Before Kasdar kidnapped me and added me to the party, I had spent time at a seaside monastery. Although I had only been there for a short time, it was a place with such good memories that I still think of it fondly.

The memory of the smell of the sea breeze and everyone’s warm smiles quickly passed through my head.

“Are they all there?”

“Yes. They’re all there because they really want to meet Hiira-san. But the people from the monastery can only meet with certain gentlemen due to their position. That’s why I want Synovidos to stay behind. . .”

What should I do?

I trembled as I realized the meaning behind her revelation.

Could it be that if I don’t do as she says, they’ll be in danger?

“Hey, Hiira-san. You’ll come with us, won’t you?”

“I. . .”

Her beautiful purple eyes stared at me challengingly.

My head was full, and I couldn’t think of anything.

At that moment,

Shinobu shielded me on her back and looked down at her.

“Please go back for now, Vivian-dono.”

“Why? Isn’t it better to have an emotional reunion as soon as possible?”

“She cannot be handed over to the old man who tries to take hostages and make her obey.”

“. . .What, what, I thought you would keep pretending until the end. You’re a boring man.”

The voice was that of a hoarse, old man.

“Saint Hiira Seamacy is strictly managed and protected by the church. What’s wrong with that?”

In that moment.

A gust of wind blew through. Shinobu, who had turned into Demon King-sama from his black outfit, was standing firmly with his arms around my shoulders.

His beautiful hair was floating in the air due to his anger.

“Oh, Demon King. Hahaha! You finally revealed your true identity!”

“She is my wife. I won’t let anyone have her as they please.”

I couldn’t help but look at him twice. Wait, wife?!

I couldn’t keep up with my thoughts and emotions due to the tense situation and Shinobu’s casual bombshell statement.

Ignoring me, who was frozen with Shinobu’s arms around my shoulders, Prime Minister-sama, who looked like Vivian-san, sneered at Shinobu.

“Oh, Demon King. If Saint Hiira can open a dining hall under the protection of the church and live in peace, wouldn’t that be what you want?”

“My wish was to release Saint Hiira. Allowing her to be free was the condition for me to continue as the Demon King, wasn’t it?”

“Haha. The palace and the church have been in turmoil every day, discussing the future policy against the Demon King. But no one is willing to come to a conclusion. The palace, which has been protected by you for hundreds of years, has become full of spineless people without decision-making power. . .There is no one who can stop me.”

Vivian-san, in the form of the Prime Minister-sama, chuckled and shook her shoulders.

“Well then, Demon King. If you want to kill me, go ahead. You can even become a disaster yourself. However, if anything happens to me, the lives of Saint Hiira’s precious nuns will be in danger.”

“. . .!!”

“As long as I protect that saint in the church where I have influence, I can control both the church and politics as I please.”

Shinobu bit his lip.

I took a deep breath and gently removed Shinobu’s hand from my shoulder.

“Hiira-dono.”

“Shinobu. Thank you. . .but, I am a saint. Saints are born for the sake of the people. That’s why I. . .I don’t want to hurt the people I care about with my selfishness.”

“That’s. . .!!”

“I like girls who understand things easily. Come on, come here.”

I approached Vivian-san’s outstretched hand.

――That’s right. This is good enough.

For a little while, I was able to live as myself and be loved by someone, and that was enough for me to be happy.

That alone was enough for me.

Suddenly, my vision darkened.

Black Dragon-san descended from the sky.

“Demon King-sama! The preparations are complete!. . .Now, it’s time to dissolve our contract!!”

Chapter 58: The Land God Black Dragon and Catastrophe

“The contract, dissolved. . .”

Shinobu opened his eyes and looked up at Black Dragon-san in the form of a dragon.

“If you interfere with me, evil god. . .”

“*Sigh*, just be quiet for now, you old man pretending to be young.”

With a flap of his wings, Vivian-san was blown away by the wind pressure.

The panicked holy knights rushed to protect her(?).

“Demon King-sama! Decide now!! Will you dissolve the contract with me and set me free, or will you continue to be used by the country as a demon king and abandon the woman you love!!!!!!!!!”

“Are you okay with that?”

In response to Shinobu’s words, Black Dragon-san nodded firmly.

“Yes. The preparations are already complete, thanks to Lala-chan. So, let’s declare the contract dissolved with enthusiasm!!!”

“Yes!!. . .Let’s go, Black Dragon!!!!”

In an instant, light burst forth.

“Please be free too. . .Kuze.”

Shinobu hugged me in her arms as I covered my face with the dazzling light.

A magic circle of light ran through the space between Shinobu and Black Dragon-san and turned into particles, melting away.

“Uaaaah. . .It’s been a while!!!!! This feeling is great!!!!”

Black Dragon-san shouted. The roar of the dragon shook even the ground.

“Alright.”

“Alright. . .?”

“For now, let’s blow up the church in the capital to lift our spirits.”

“Huh?”

I let out a strange voice.

Blow up the church in the capital???

“I just hit the church with the power of that roar like a light jab, but well, it’s completely destroyed. Hahaha.”

This is definitely not a laughing matter.

“T-That’s a disaster, isn’t it?! We need to call for help right away.”

“It’s like Hiira-chan’s explosion.”

“Eh?”

“Even if it explodes, no one gets hurt. Only the building is damaged. Of course, I’m a land god, you know? I can do that much, hahaha.”

“Hahaha, you say. . .”

“Weren’t they important people to Hiira-chan? Anyway, I teleported all the sisters who were thrown into prison back to their original monastery with magic. I smelled the sea, so I’m pretty sure I got it right.”

“I can’t tell if you’re sloppy or amazing anymore.”

Fire and ice balls collide with his stomach.

“Huh?”

“You damn evil god!!!!!!”

The members of the Holy Knights and Vivian-san (Prime Minister-sama) are randomly attacking Black Dragon-san with magic.

“You guys are useless. . .?”

Black Dragon-san mutters in exasperation and rolls them over with the wind pressure from his wings.

“Hey, where do you think the power of that magic comes from? It’s from the earth. What are you going to do by hitting me with my own power? Idiots?”

“Hiiiiii!!!!!”

The moment Black Dragon-san’s breath of flames hits them, their clothes and armor all rot away. Even Prime Minister-sama, who was Vivian-san, finally turns into an old man with an afro.

“For now, I’ll tie you up. You’re annoying.”

Vines like tentacles grow from the ground and entangle the naked knights and the Prime Minister. It’s a terrible hellish scene.

“T-The religion of this country is collapsing.”

I feel like the authority of the religion has already fallen to the ground in this state.

Black Dragon-san looks at us with a disgusted expression in his golden eyes.

“It’s fine. The first king was a mess, and the current king is a piece of junk. The church is lying. Just believe in me. Got it? I’ll just replace all the gods of the church with myself.”

“Uwaaaaa.”

“What the hell are you talking about, like evil gods and stuff. My name is Kuze. Remember it well!!!”

“I-I’ve learned the true name of the evil god!!! It’s all over!!!!”

Everyone goes crazy. The hellish scene becomes even more hellish.

Well, of course.

Their beliefs, which they had believed in, were now in disarray.

Certainly, Black Dragon had always referred to humans as worms and flower beds.

Land gods are scary. Black dragons are scary.

“I see. . .the crystal ball used to diagnose abilities was made of the crystals from Mount Kuze. . .ah, Kuze. . .”

“Hey, Shinobu!!! I’m gonna fly all over the country for a bit!!! According to Lala-chan, my fans are still in places other than the Stavicute territory!!”

“Don’t kill anyone, Kuze.”

Shinobu, who hugged me, was calm. He looked somewhat happy.

I see. Since they have already dissolved their contract, the two can call each other by their names.

“Heeyt!!!! Don’t make Hiira-chan sad!!! Besides, I’m going to return as the Land God and I have to increase my fans!!! Hyaaahahaha!!!”

Laughing loudly, Black Dragon-san flew away while spitting fire from his mouth.

Stunned, I watched him go.

“. . .I think I understand why Shinobu had to contract as Demon King-sama and command Black Dragon Kuze-san.”

“That’s usually how it is with the old gods rooted in the land.”

“Kieeeeee!!! Hey!! Hey!! Demon King!!! Hey!!!”

Prime Minister-sama was screaming in a hoarse voice while completely naked.

“D-Demon King!!!! Do something about that quickly!!!”

“Unfortunately, I’m no longer the Demon King. I’m just a man.”

Shinobu shrugged his shoulders and shook his head as if it were a shame.

Prime Minister-sama ranted while spitting saliva.

“If it’s your words, won’t he listen?!”

“He won’t listen to everything.”

“Stop that disaster quickly!!!”

“Stop it, huh.”

Shinobu narrowed his eyes and smiled.

“That’s something you should pray to the gods you believe in.”

“Aaaahhhhh!!!”

Oh, it seems like he broke down.

Shinobu watched Prime Minister-sama’s ugly behavior for a while, then urged me to go, saying “I’m tired of watching, let’s go.” and entered the saint’s barrier.

When I went to the terrace, the staff were hugging each other, trembling and crying.

“W-What will happen to this world?”

Shinobu folded his knees and wiped their tears with a smile.

“Don’t worry. Although he’s behaving immorally now, the land god is kind to believers. From now on, if we believe in the black dragon Kuze as a god, he will be happy to protect us.”

“Is that so. . .?”

“That’s right. . .I’m a little tired. Let’s have some tea, Hiira-dono~.”

“Shinobu, you change your mood too quickly!!!”

I followed Shinobu, who quickly returned to the dining room.

Inside, Lala-san was stunned, looking up at the sky with her legs giving out.

“Lala-san, Lala-san, are you okay?”

“. . .The old ladies in my hometown will fall to their knees and cry while looking up at the sky.”

“I think so too.”

Perhaps because of the terrible situation, the adventurers did not come for lunch.

After seeing off the staff who returned home to Maytart Village, Lala-san, Shinobu, and I had lunch together.

After hearing everything, Lala-san sighed and said,

“I never thought he would take such a gamble, saying that [even if the contract is terminated because faith remains in my hometown, the magical power as a land god will not be affected].”

Chapter 59: Okonomiyaki for the last lunchtime.

In the midst of a chaotic scene where the Naked Knights and the coquettish Prime Minister were crucified by tentacles, we decided to cook to calm ourselves down.

“There’s just too much going on, so can I cook something for everyone?”

I suggested, and Lala-san, Shinobu, and even the black dragon, Kuze-san, agreed.

“Watching Hiira cook is so soothing.”

“Yeah, it looks like fun, and the halo shining when she takes out the flour is beautiful.”.

“I-I’m embarrassed if you all stare at me like that.”

“I feel like something like this has happened before.”

I chuckled wryly in the hall and prepared chopped cabbage, green onions, and bean sprouts.

Then, I poured the fluffy flour from my palm into a bowl and mixed it with water using a whisk.

The pleasant sound echoed in the kitchen.

“So, I decided to terminate the contract.”

Kuze-san, a black dragon in human form, spoke up.

By the way, Kuze-san in the form of a black dragon is flying through the skies of various places in the Lucidia Kingdom as he declared. The land gods released from the contract seem to have enough power to split the “land”.

――Kuze-san’s story goes back to yesterday afternoon.

Kuze-san, in his human form, followed Lala-san onto the shared carriage to the capital out of pure curiosity.

“Why did you come with me?”

“Well, you wouldn’t make it to the last carriage, would you?”

“That’s true, but I’m planning to stay overnight tonight.”

“Then, isn’t it better if I come with you?”

“Eh, what?!”

Kuze-san narrowed his eyes and laughed at Lala-san, who was screaming in surprise, and peered into her face with a cheerful expression.

“I’ll go with you because it’s dangerous. And it seems interesting.”

“The second half must be the main part. . .Oh well, there was a place I wanted you to take me too.”

“Huh? Me?”

“Yes.”

Lala leaned close to the ear of the black dragon on the shared carriage, considering the other passengers, and whispered the reason.

“We’ll investigate your followers who should be left all over the country.”

Kuze looked at Lala’s face unintentionally.

Then, he hugged Lala in the excitement.

“Thank you so much, Lala-chan!!!”

“Hey, hey! Be mindful of the people around us, idiot!!!!”

“Horses or deer, whatever.”

“That’s not what I meant, you idiot!!!!”――

Shinobu and I looked at each other unconsciously after hearing the story so far.

“Hmm? What’s going on?”

Lala-san raised an eyebrow at the sight of Shinobu and me.

I muttered to myself.

“When did you two become so close?”

“What?”

“Lala-dono, be careful. Even though he’s in human form, he’s still a beast.”

“What are you misunderstanding!! Don’t talk like Synovidos in the face of the Demon King!! It’s nothing!!! Let’s continue talking!!”

“”Understood.””

――Anyway,

Yesterday, Lala-san went to the library with Kuze-san, who was heading to the capital with her.

Kuze-san took over the rest of the story.

“Lala-chan collected the legends of the black dragons that remain in various places along with the map of Draco Cocoon Peninsula.”

“If you have a specific information you want to investigate, it’s easy to ask the reference service of the library’s specialist magician. Black Dragon seemed happy to hear the legend that remains in my hometown, so I thought I’d look it up for him.”

“Lala-chan is so kind. As expected, she’s a believer fan.”

“Don’t make me a believer fan without permission! Since we’re going to the capital anyway, it’s just a side trip!”

Laughing at Lala-san’s tsundere, Kuze-san continues talking.

“Well, surprisingly, it remained throughout the country. I thought, maybe. . .[Even if I cancel the contract now, I still have plenty of power and authority left].”

“You acted fast once you realized it, didn’t you? You went to the legendary sites all night and showed the locals the black dragon.”

“Oh, yeah!!! I still had a lot of big fans!!! The hidden believer lists of The Black Dragon?? Hyahaha.”

“And then, that disaster happened. . .”

Thanks to Lala-chan, the preparation for the contract dissolution was completed.

It seems to be a common understanding worldwide that land gods lose their power if they are not believed in. It is also common sense as Lala-san’s academic knowledge, as Shinobu, who is a descendant of a shrine priest in his hometown, is also like that.

As a former member of the church, this knowledge is fresh for me.

“The black dragon was widely worshipped in Draco Cocoon Peninsula. So as the original land god, Kuze had immense power. However, when Kuze made a contract with Shinobu and became the relation between the holy beast and the demon king, Kuze’s authority was limited to the extent that the demon king could exercise it.”

When Lala-san looked at Shinobu’s face, he nodded to indicate that she was correct. Lala-san continued speaking.

“Furthermore, as a result of the first king’s faith in Lucidia Kingdom, there was a fear that Kuze’s power as a land god would decrease. If Shinobu wanted to resign as the demon king, he needed to dissolve the contract with Kuze. However, if the contract was dissolved, there was a possibility that Kuze, who had lost his foothold, would disappear.”

After saying all this at once, Lala-san summarized it in one sentence.

“Well, in short. . .there was a concern that if the black dragon faith disappeared in various places, it might be a little troublesome if the contract with the demon king was dissolved.”

“But everything was fine, right?”

“Yes.”

Lala-san narrowed her eyes. Her expression seemed to be happy, as if it was about herself.

“Most of the common people who touched the land in their daily farming and offered prayers to the weather were living while thanking the land god, although they didn’t say it out loud. . .Kuze was not forgotten.”

In the spring, they kneaded dragon sweets and held festivals.

When planting seedlings, they sang songs of prayer to the old land god.

At the autumn harvest festival, they made decorations resembling dragons with wheat ears and hung them on the eaves.

During the winter, when relatives gather to drink fruit liquor, they compare drunken people to dragons, laugh, and endure the harsh season.

“I thought it was a lie when I saw the information in the library, so I rushed to the nearby village and was surprised to find out that the legend was true!! Hahaha, I was so happy.”

I suddenly remembered the prayer in the kitchen.

“Come to think of it, before standing in the kitchen at the monastery, we offer a prayer to the earth. Oh, that was also a prayer for Kuze-san.”

Shinobu bowed to Lala-san with a formal expression.

“This time, thanks to Lala-dono, everything went well. I’m truly grateful.”

“N-No, it’s not a big deal. I just had a debt of gratitude for being allowed to do the accounting work freely. So don’t bow your head anymore.”

Lala-san blushed. She’s so cute.

“Anyway, look! Hiira is making okonomiyaki! Look!”

Everyone’s attention turned to me.

“Hehe, I’ll do my best.”

Feeling my cheeks getting hot, I spread the silky batter thinly on the hot plate with a ladle.

I put cabbage, bean sprouts, and green onions on top, and thinly sliced orc meat.

The sizzling sound of the ingredients cooking was music to my ears.

I flipped it over and shaped it.

Next to me, I started making yakisoba and fried it until it was crispy, then mixed it with sauce.

“I love Hiira’s special okonomiyaki.”

“Come to think of it, after being expelled from the Kasdar Party, the first thing Hiira-dono made for us was this okonomiyaki.”

“I remember that time. It was the first time I showed Hiira-chan my human form.”

“. . .At that time, you suddenly got naked, so I couldn’t stand it.”

“Hiira-chan didn’t mind at all, hahaha.”

Everyone is happily laughing around my cooking.

I feel so happy and free that I could cry.

I’m glad I’m a flour-type saint.

I make a smile so that my voice doesn’t become tearful and look at everyone.

“It’s almost ready, so please bring your plates. Let’s eat together!”

This happy time will surely end soon.

Because everything has become a mess, it’s impossible to continue the cafeteria here calmly.

I will keep this lunchtime as a precious memory in my heart.

Chapter 60: Journey to Freedom

The enjoyable mealtime ended all too soon.

After savoring the dessert, when we went outside, the Demon King’s castle, which overlooked the Saint Cafeteria, had disappeared without a trace.

“I smell flowers. . .Has the castle turned into a flower garden?”

“Neither the Demon King nor I, the Holy Beast Kuze, are here anymore. . .The Demon Beast Forest has also turned into flowers and scattered, disappearing.”

Shinobu murmured, his black hair fluttering.

His face was bright and clear.

“I thought I would return to my original lifespan soon after breaking the contract. . .But I’m just back to being a normal man. I’m really glad.”

Kuze-san laughed naturally at Shinobu, who was looking at his palm with deep emotion.

“Even if we’re not master and servant, the relationship between me and Shinobu won’t change. We’re best friends, right? I’ll continue to lend you my magical power, and I’ll leave the Demon King’s power as it is.”

“Thank you… Eventually, I’ll ask Hiira-dono for immortality too.”

“Sure thing, sure thing.”

“Wait, my intention is――”

As I interjected, the two who had become friends from master and servant laughed.

“If I’m immortal, then Hiira-dono should be too. She promised to stay by my side forever.”

“Yeah, if we lose Hiira-chan, we’ll team up and become evil gods.”

“Oh no, suddenly the fate of the world is on my shoulders.”

“Geez, you guys are so selfish.”

Lala-san looked at us with a sigh, placing her hand on her waist in exasperation.

“Hiira, whenever you’re in trouble and things get tough, come to me. It’s enough to be bothered by others. ”

“Hahaha. . .”

The wind blew.

“Hiira. . .I love you.”

Lala-san approached and hugged me tightly.

“Lala-san, thank you for everything.”

“Goodbye, Hiira. . .I’ll make sure to create a place for you to return to. Leave it to me. Let’s meet again in the new Lucidia Kingdom. Bring lots of souvenirs, okay?”

Tears overflowed as I endured Lala-san’s soft body and sweet scent. She gently stroked my hair.

“Lala-san,. . .Lala-san, I. . .uh. . .”

“Hiira. Be happy no matter what. Even if we’re far apart, let’s live freely and happily. It’s a promise.”

“Uh. . .”

Lala-san hugged me until I calmed down and stopped crying.

Shinobu and Kuze-san watched over us quietly.

I could hear Kuze-san talking to Shinobu.

“Leave Lala-chan to me. I’ll protect her properly. As the first believer in the revival of the land god, yeah.”

His voice was surprisingly serious, and I realized that “Oh, Lala-san will be okay.”

Shinobu’s response was also full of trust in his best friend.

“I hope Kuze stays healthy too. If Draco Cocoon Peninsula gets boring, send your vessel to me. Then we can travel together.”

“That’s a good idea.”

“. . .I want you to come and visit me directly when the country settles down. I also want to show you my hometown.”

――That’s right.

I’m going to travel with Shinobu from now on.

To show him the country where he used to live, now that he’s free from his role as the Demon King.

According to the information Lala-san found, Shinobu’s country is still inhabited and thriving.

It’s a distant island that has recently started accepting travelers.

After leaving the Draco Cocoon Peninsula and passing through the forest, we take the train to the western end of the continent and then head to the island nation as a transit point.

From there, we can reach Shinobu’s country by taking a regular ship.

Shinobu’s regret as Bitou Shinobu is that he couldn’t protect his country.

Now that he’s free, he wants to see his hometown again and sort out his feelings.

I said I would go on that journey too. I want to leave the country and learn how to cook so I can make even more delicious food.

I want to make memories with Shinobu, who is neither Synovidos nor the Demon King.

After all, I’m his wife.

“Hyaa.”

“Why are you making such a weird noise, Hiira?”

“O-oh, sorry, I just remembered something embarrassing. . .”

“What is it?”

Shinobu looks at me kindly as I laugh with Lala-san.

――This is the beginning of a long, long journey.

Chapter 61: Epilogue/A story in a maritime city somewhere

――This takes place in the island nation of Solartica, a maritime city located in the western part of the continent.

In the city facing the port, a harbor festival was being held, with flower decorations placed all over the city and food stalls lined up in the square.

In this square, which also allowed foreign businesses, there was a popular food stall that had recently gained popularity.

It was a small shop that sold delicious “okonomiyaki” that would make you feel better if you ate it.

The food stall was run by a young couple from a foreign country and was only open during lunchtime. Since its opening, it had been popular every day, and word of mouth had made it a small topic of conversation in the city.

What was unusual was the cooking method of the young wife.

It was unknown whether it was magic or a trick, but a strange ring was perched on her head. When she held her hand over the bowl in the kitchen, the ring sparkled and flour came out of her hand.

This performance was also one of the secrets of the food stall’s popularity.

“That food stall seems to be very popular.”

The young merchant who owned the square was sitting on a bench with his wife, watching the bustling scene. It was also part of his job to see what kind of business was popular in the city.

The young merchant wasn’t skipping work to go on a date with his new wife.

“It seems to be delicious. Some of the maids also said they had it there and it was delicious.”

“The reputation is good, and it’s good for the city’s promotion. Actually, we talked about renting it out as a tenant, but. . .”

“Oh my.”

“Since they’re on a journey, they said it’s okay until the next ship to the Eastern Islands arrives.”

“That’s lonely. . .but meeting travelers might be like that.”

The merchant squinted his eyes as he watched the couple.

The petite and young wife was lively and cheerful, while the husband with his rare long black hair had a calm demeanor and subtly exerted pressure on those around him to prevent any strange people from bothering his wife.

Even from a distance, they looked like a well-matched couple.

“When I rented out the square, I checked their documents. They’re from the continentーーthey came up north from the Draco Cocoon Peninsula and arrived here by ship.”

“Well, that’s quite a long journey. . .”

“As for the Draco Cocoon Peninsula, I heard a recent story about a shrewd female CEO making a profit from a tour to see the land dragon.”

In the Draco Cocoon Peninsula, the black dragon of the land god had been flying around the sky irregularly for several years, and the pilgrimage tour of believers chasing after the dragon was popular. The name of the country was Lucidia Kingdom, if he remembered correctly. The land dragon of the Draco Cocoon Peninsula was famous in name only, and he couldn’t recall the name of the country.

“A dragon flying in the sky, and accommodations arranged for sightseeing. . .hmm. It’s a business that can’t be done without knowing where the dragon will appear, but it seems quite profitable.”

At her husband’s words, the wife shook her black hair and smiled.

“There are no dragons in this town, so it’s impossible.”

“I know that.”

“You wouldn’t bring back a captured dragon, would you?”

“Hell no. Geez, what kind of guy do you think I am?”

“I think of you as a great merchant who can acquire anything.”

“. . .You’ve become quite eloquent too.”

Raising an eyebrow, the merchant laughed. Blushing at the tips of his ears, he looked back at the foreign couple who were energetically doing business.

The couple seemed busy but they worked happily. Their close relationship made those who watched them feel happy too.

“[Saint Cafeteria], huh. . .Let’s hope for the happiness of the two’s future.”

The wind blew in the wide sky.

A scream from the young wife was heard from the cafeteria.

“Ah!! Neko-chan!! Don’t take that fish!!”

“H-Hiira-dono, Neko-chan can’t help it!! It’s the fate of a port town!!”

People burst into laughter at the frantic behavior of the couple.

――It’s one more month until the ship to the Eastern Islands docks at the port.

―End―

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KOFI-PATREON

ℍ𝕆𝕄𝔼


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