Chapter 31: In a cloudy park
Riley taps the bench seat with his finger. There are no children in the park where the cloudy sky and cold wind blow.
“The Duke is locked up in the student dormitory of the academy, right? Hmm, I see…”
As he said that, he sipped an eggnog.
When he tilted the cup with yellowed white liquid, a faint steam rose.
“Yes. Because he has been attacked repeatedly, the knights of the capital have taken the situation seriously and will protect him in the academy until the perpetrator is caught.”
I also took a sip from the cup in my hand as I spoke.
The drink with a fluffy and sweet aroma of cinnamon warms the body from the core in the harsh cold. The warm liquid with the dense flavor of milk and eggs slid down my throat.
After exhaling a sigh of relief at the drink that warms the body from the core in the harsh cold, Riley placed the cup on the bench.
“It was a disaster earlier. Especially because the bakery I went to was sold out of the item I was looking for.”
“Really. The salmon pie there was definitely William-sama’s favorite… I thought I would bring something to change his surroundings a bit because he would get stuffy staying in the dormitory all the time.”
As I said that, I let out a sigh and Riley leaned on the bench.
“Well, don’t get discouraged. Poppy recommended some other shops that use salmon, right? One of them is bound to have something… A~ah, you guys are so lucky. As residents of the capital, you can meet each other anytime you want. I’m the only one left out.”
He suddenly moans in a theatrical voice. I chuckled at the sight.
“I do meet Poppy often, but I also meet you like this when you come to the capital for business.
I took another sip of eggnog.
“But… is Riley okay? I’m happy to talk to Riley, but doesn’t Riley want to spend more time with his fiancee?”
Upon hearing my words, Riley blinks in agitation.
“Riley, you may not have noticed, but lately you’ve been coming to the capital for business way too often. Is it because your fiance just enrolled in the academy this year?”
Riley’s eyes widened at my words. Afterwards, he covers his face with his hat in an ominous manner.
“Don’t procrastinate and just go see her. Your fiance would surely be happy if you went to see her.”
Riley glances at me from under the shadow of his hat.
“Do you really think so?”
As I nod, Riley’s face turns red as if blushing.
For a while, Riley remained silent with a red face, but eventually he opened his mouth again.
After saying just that, he fell silent again, but after the silence, he started talking again.
“I really do want to see her… but…”
He turns his head away and speaks grumpily.
“I also wanted to see Leah and Poppy, so don’t misunderstand that.”
After saying that, Riley fell silent again, and I brushed his chestnut-colored hair with energy.
I say to the surprised Riley with a full smile.
“I already figured that out a long time ago!”
“By the way, there seem to be more and more reports of magical beast sightings lately.”
Riley, whose redness has subsided, speaks seriously.
“Magical beast sightings?”
I ask back and Riley nods.
“I hear about it when I go on business trips. Most of the stories are about the forest, but there are also some sightings in the suburbs near the city. It’s kind of creepy.”
As Riley whispers seriously, I feel a chill in my stomach
(Has it come to this?).
There are stages leading up to the increase in magical beasts in the scenario.
First, magical beasts begin to increase in the ancient forest. The ancient forest, which has accumulated energy over hundreds of years, tries to condense that energy in the deepest part of the forest. This accelerates the occurrence of magical beasts that feed on that energy.
Next, magical beasts start appearing all over the place. The energy condensed in the ancient forest affects the entire country.
And in the final stage, the “core” of magical beasts, an energy crystal that is later named, appears in the deepest part of the ancient forest, and an abnormal number of magical beasts are generated centering on the ancient forest.
It is only at that time that it is possible to deal with this problem. The solution to the mass occurrence of magical beasts is to disperse the condensed energy, but there is no way for humans to destroy the core of magical beasts until it appears in a visible form as a crystal. In other words, the problem cannot be solved until the core of magical beasts appears.
The fact that there are more and more reports of magical beast sightings all over the place means that we are definitely approaching the final stage.
(And if it goes as planned in the scenario, that means William-sama’s fate of death is also approaching…)
I was startled and looked up to see Riley looking worriedly at my face.
“Are you okay? You look pale… Is it because I talked about this kind of thing? I’m sorry.”
Riley apologized and I shook my head.
“No, I was just thinking about something.”
I stood up with my cup in hand.
“It’s time to go. Can you still hang out with me a little more later?”
We left the park together.
The sky was still filled with dark clouds.