They immediately found the gap in the hedge that Mick had probably entered the forest from.
Ronnie asked Cordelia as soon as they entered the forest.
“Ojou-sama, how are you going to find a kid who someone familiar with this forest couldn’t?”
“I might find something strange because I’ve never been here before.”
“That’s a cliché used by amateurs, isn’t it?”
“You’re very pessimistic. Or rather, it’s rare for you not to be confident.”
She looked at Ronnie, who had spoken in monotone, and saw that he had waved his hand lightly to create light. That light acted as a lamp.
(… Ronnie really is a good magician. He doesn’t even need tools.)
Cordelia also had a magic tool that resembled a small flashlight for when she went out, but the light Ronnie had created was much brighter. However, magic like that was trivial to Ronnie. He slowly let out a long sigh.
“My brother, who is two years older than me, would often run out of the house when he was Mick’s age. I also helped look for him. But we never found him until he came out… but he knew everything we did. That’s why I’m sure that that kid found a good place to hide and is watching us.”
“I would feel relieved if he is watching us. Because then he won’t be hurt.”
“Well, this is a forest. Let’s quickly find him and get out of here.”
The forest was thicker than she thought it would be. They could occasionally hear the sounds of insects too. There was a forked road along the way, but one side had a spider web in a relatively low position, so they didn’t hesitate to choose their path.
(There’s a lot of places for a child to hide.)
She looked around the vicinity so that she wouldn’t overlook small areas and let out a loud voice which she usually wouldn’t use.
However, not even her voice echoed back at them.
Ronnie approached and parted the grass every time he found a thicket, but he couldn’t find any human traces. Should I be pleased that there aren’t any traces of Mick going off the main road, or should I be worried that we can’t find any traces of him?
“Let’s go a little further.”
I want to quickly get some kind of response ――― she wished, as she continued to carefully observe her surroundings while they progressed further. Ronnie muttered while they were searching for Mick.
“At any rate, I was surprised when you said you were going to teach, Ojou-sama. However, it’s even more surprising that Master gave you permission to.”
Cordelia tilted her head when Ronnie suddenly brought up the topic. Why not? But she wanted to answer him, since he was helping her.
“Is it that strange?”
“Definitely. However, I’m sure normal noble ladies wouldn’t be able to put up with it if Mick lunged at them. Ah, I don’t think you’re normal.”
“… Say, Ronnie. Why do you think Mick-kun hates me?”
Like the director had said, one of the reasons is because he wasn’t good with interacting with people. But I don’t think that’s all. Mick-kun doesn’t talk to Vernoux-sama or Gille-sama, and he doesn’t attack them at all. Even though there was the thing with the muffin, the difference in our treatments is too different.
“Why do you think he hates you, Ojou-sama?”
“… I can only imagine that he thinks of me as unpleasant.”
I understand that he might think of this as a rich person’s sympathy and pastime, since he had said 『if you want to play around』. Of course, I have no intentions of playing around, but I already know that those thoughts don’t matter.
(At the time of the fake Flora Silk incident, there was a disparity in wealth since he thought that his sister’s illness could be cured with money.)
Ted’s incident was different from the truth, but this could be similar to what had happened to him. If Mick-kun lost his parents to illness… then this violent reaction against Cordelia might be stronger.
But, in the end, she couldn’t know what he was thinking just from hypothesising about it.
But Ronnie chuckled when he heard Cordelia’s response.
“… Why are you laughing?”
“No, well, isn’t it just that? Hating and unpleasantness aren’t that much different.”
Now that he mentions it, it certainly does seem like just another way to phrase it.
In any case, the answer which she wanted to hear from Ronnie wasn’t that, so she gave a long sigh. Ronnie shrugged.
“Ojou-sama, you’re becoming very impatient.”
“… Yeah. A lot of things come to mind, but they don’t come together.”
“Well, it’s charming from my point of view.”
Where? Cordelia got a little irritated as she looked at Ronnie. In contrast, he looked a little happy.
“Because you don’t give up easily, do you? It’s charming to see who will persist between you and him. However, the current situation was beyond my expectations. Let’s look over there next.”
Ronnie stiffened his expression as he said that and pointed to the right side of a forked road. The road on the left was filled with decaying trees and was hard to pass through.
“… Ronnie, you have quite bad taste.”
“Huh? For choosing roads? It’s normal, isn’t it?”
“Not that. When you said, it was fun to see who will persist… Wait. Say, can’t someone go through here?”
Cordelia stopped, bent over and looked at the tunnel which was made from shrubs. The shrubs went quite deep, and even Ronnie couldn’t guess where the exit was.
“The entrance is a bit small, but it seems a bit easier to move once inside, since it looks like it gets wider.”
“You’re right… But that’s only if it was a kid. It would be quite tough for someone of my physique to crawl through there.”
“Then, shall I go? I’ll come back right away if he’s not there.”
“No, it’ll also be tough for you to crawl through it.”
“It’s more important for us to find out if Mick-kun went in here than to worry about my condition.”
I couldn’t do this in a dress, but it should be okay if my current clothes get damaged or dirty. It’ll be okay if I mend them.
But in contrast to Cordelia’s enthusiasm, Ronnie sighed.
“Well, it would indeed be hard for the director to pass through here with a skirt, and she probably wouldn’t search here. I wonder if I can pass through… if I take off my robe and crawl.”
Ronnie took off his robe, hung it on a tree and lightly turned his arms. Afterwards, he took a breath in determination and put his knees to the ground. He wasn’t going to let her go by herself, even if he was close by.
“Then, I’ll go first… ouch, it hurts! A twig poked me. Wah, it might be stuck on my clothes. Oh, it would be very unpleasant if you get a wound on your face, so be careful. There are also twigs on the ground, so don’t hurt your hands.”
“Thanks. I’m fine for now.”
She could guess that Ronnie was occasionally breaking branches with his magic from the sounds she heard and the speed they were moving at. Unlike Ronnie, who was crawling, Cordelia was on all fours.
(I can pass through here like this, so it’s definitely easier for Mick-kun to go through here.)
She thought, as they proceeded, and Ronnie eventually spoke in liberation.
“Yay, I can see the end.”
They crawled out of the tunnel and Ronnie stretched his back.
“Alright, I can walk now! But it’s already dark here. Do you think he’s here?”
“I think it would be great if we found him.”
“But, if he really is here, then it would be pointless to search for him elsewhere. I think we were over there. You can’t see this place well from there.”
Ronnie looked over at the direction beyond the shrubs, just like the ones they had seen before they had entered the tunnel. But the robe that Ronnie had hung up was nowhere to be seen.
Cordelia slowly observed the area.
There was relatively tall grass growing around there, and there were brightly coloured flowers blooming everywhere. She also saw some plants with warm coloured leaves growing in the middle. This place would probably look more colourful and beautiful in the daytime.
(The plants before and after the tunnel are quite different.)
Sure, we spent some time in the tunnel, but I never dreamt that the plants would change this much. It might not be that weird for different plants to grow at this distance.
Is this also the influence of magic on the land…? She thought up until there, and a tree, which looked easy to climb, caught her eye.
“That tree looks like it’s been broken. And it looks fresh.”
“You see quite well in the dark.”
“I can’t see it clearly. But the tree’s magic looks broken.”
“Let’s get a little closer.”
Cordelia approached the tree with Ronnie. They saw a slightly thick branch on the ground. That was proof that the branch had been broken with unreasonable force.
“Somehow, it feels like a kid fell and broke the branch.”
“It does. And if he did fall from that height, then he may be hurt.”
“There’s a spring over there. I can feel strong water magic.”
“Let’s go look.”
We have to find him quickly if he is injured… Cordelia thought, as she jogged towards the spring.
However, there was no one at the spring. However, there was a wet child-sized top drying beside the spring, on a rock.
“He’s a bit further back.”
Cordelia took a deep breath when Ronnie tried to go further.
“Mick-kuun! You’re here, aren’t you?!”
She screamed with all her might, and her voice echoed back.
Her voice was so loud that it made Ronnie freeze, and the birds, who were resting nearby, fluttered away.
Cordelia, however, didn’t miss the noise of the thicket swaying in front of her. She quickly ran into the depths of the thicket.
Mick, who was half-naked, was sitting there.
“W-why are you here?!”
“I should ask you that. Why are you here, Mick-kun? And why are you dressed like that? You could catch a cold or get bitten by insects.”
“St-stay away from me!”
Mick moved back while still sitting to distance himself from Cordelia, but he soon hit the thicket and couldn’t distance himself any further.
“Why did you come here?”
“To look for you. It’s dangerous at night even if you’re familiar with the forest.”
“It’s none of your business. Why you…?”
“You are certainly none of my business, but everyone in the poorhouse and the village are worried about you. Let’s quickly go back.”
Mick closed his mouth. He thought of something when she’d said, everyone. Cordelia leaned over to his side. She looked over his whole body, and her eyes stopped on his left leg.
“You’re hurt after all. You have to get this treated as soon as possible…”
She couldn’t see any dirt in his wound, so he must have washed it in the spring. However, he had a bruise and traces of blood on him. The trails showed that he had grazed a large area even though he may have washed it off.
(His bone might be cracked)
I have to get him back quickly or else… She thought, as she tried to call Ronnie, but then she was suddenly shocked.
“I don’t want to go back with you!”
Cordelia was suddenly pushed back, and she fell on her backside. Despite that, she got up as soon as she saw that Mick was about to run away and chased after him. Luckily or unluckily, Mick’s leg was wounded, so he was slow.
She quickly caught up to him and grabbed his arm. However, Mick didn’t obediently let her catch him.
Mick’s swing was stronger than she had thought it would be, and she let him go. Her balance also broke at the same time. The ground and Mick’s feet were reflected in her eyes.
But that was when she realised.
Mick’s injured left leg was floating in the air, and the ground came to an end.
This was a cliff.
(He’s going to fall…!)
The moment she understood this, Cordelia stepped forward with all her might and extended her right hand towards Mick’s arm. I managed to grab his wrist… She put her hand into her left pocket as she thought that.
Mick finally realised that his left foot was no longer on the ground. He gulped and widened his eyes. To her surprise, Mick didn’t brush off her hand, or he didn’t plant himself on the ground with his right foot.
Mick’s weight wasn’t light enough for Cordelia to pull. Shortly after, she was dragged along by Mick and also floated in the air.
She heard him scream, but she had no time for him.
She quickly pulled her hand out from her left pocket and channelled her magic into the seed she had taken out.