“Well, I don’t think you need to be too careful. This is probably your first time in such a crowd, but it’s a lot better than it was at the Founding Festival.”
There’s a lot of people here now, but how crowded was the Founding Festival? Cordelia was relieved that it wasn’t as crowded as the Founding Festival as she stared at Earl Zakharov and Shelley chatting while picking up items from the stall.
Cordelia was staring at them with Ronnie a short distance away from the stall because she didn’t want to get in the way of the other guests.
“They might be related, but they don’t seem like father and daughter.”
“Do they look like they’re father and daughter to you, Ojou-sama?”
Ronnie went quiet after he heard Cordelia’s reply and shrugged.
However, her opinion was based on the information she had gained from the game, so it lacked objectivity. Thus, she was a little surprised that Ronnie felt this way in such a little time.
“Why do you think that way, Ronnie?”
“Because the Earl lets her do whatever she wants. Even if he rebukes her, he doesn’t stick his foot down so that she will listen, right? I know that he’ll be troubled if she doesn’t like him, but he’s looking down on her. It might be fine now, but if she really becomes his relative… or even gets adopted by him, then he’ll continue to treat her like a customer.”
Ronnie’s comment sounded harsher than usual because he was tired of listening to the interactions between Earl Zakharov and Shelley. Cordelia felt terrible for making him accompany her when he was tired of them as she recalled the interactions between Earl Zakharov and Shelley.
Earl Zakharov had earned a lot of money in the marine industry even if he isn’t in that business anymore. It’s unlikely that he doesn’t know how to interact with people, Cordelia thought. Shelley left the store and hurried back to where Cordelia was. What does she want? Cordelia tilted her head, and Shelley suddenly pulled her hand.
“Woah, what…? You surprised me! Don’t surprise me.”
I’m the one who was surprised.
“Shelley-san, what happened? Where is Earl Zakharov?”
“The Earl is talking to some people at the stall. So, I thought I had a bit of time and came to talk to you.”
“This is my pocket money. Can I buy a nice gift for the Earl with this?”
Cordelia wondered what Shelly was going to say, and widened her eyes in surprise.
“Come on, answer. The Earl’s nearly done.”
“Eh, yes. Let’s see…”
But, the amount of money Shelley had was only enough to buy a piece of candy. It wasn’t enough to buy a gift for the Earl. Shelley probably asked me because she couldn’t find a gift that she could buy with her money.
(Hmm, I know that feelings are important when giving gifts.)
However, her budget is too low.
But, she won’t accept it even if I tell her this.
“Hey, isn’t there anything I can buy?”
“The Earl was happy that you gave him flowers before.”
“I can’t get flowers that can only be bought in stores. I won’t use money if I can pick them.”
“Then, how about wrapping paper and ribbons to decorate the flowers with? I’m sure he’ll be happy if you decorate the flowers that you picked with ribbons and wrapping paper.”
Shelley thought a little about Cordelia’s proposal.
“… That’s not the answer I was expecting. I thought you would know a lot of things since you’re dressed beautifully. But, alright. It’s not a bad idea. I’ll try it.”
I feel like she spoke ill of me when she’s supposed to thank me, but it seems like she accepted my idea.
(I wonder if domineering refers to someone like this.)
I wonder if she doesn’t respect the people she talks to because she has a lot of confidence in herself. She shows kindness sometimes, but her attitude makes it hard to tell.
(But at this rate, she’ll just be conceited.)
How can I get her to notice that, Cordelia thought, and Shelley walked pass Cordelia.
“Shelley-san, where are you going?”
“I’m going to look for wrapping paper and ribbons! I’ll be back right away, so tell the Earl that!”
“You can’t go by yourself! It’ll be troublesome if you get lost in this crowd of people!!”
“Then, find me if I get lost! I have to go buy it now!”
Cordelia had expected this, but Shelley didn’t stop even when Cordelia tried to stop her.
Ronnie also thought it wasn’t a good idea, so he tried to grab her, but she lightly dodged when she saw his hand… then she bumped into someone who was passing by.
“Oops, are you alright, Ojou-san?”
Shelley had bumped into a tall and muscular man who had a stubble. The man confirmed that Shelley hadn’t fallen over and smiled.
“It’s good for kids to have a lot of energy, but you should be careful. I heard what you guys were talking about. We have wrapping paper and ribbons at my general store. Do you want to come see?”
“Yes! See, I found a shop. I’ll be back right away! Will you guys be waiting for the Earl here?”
“Shelley-san, I said you can’t go…”
“Argh, shut up! I said I’ll be back right away, didn’t I?!”
Shelley had already turned her back and wasn’t listening to what Cordelia said at all. Cordelia panicked and looked towards the stall that the Earl was at, but he was already inside.
(You’d normally think that that person would kidnap you! He doesn’t have the appearance of someone who manages a general store!)
People who did business in places like this wouldn’t have an appearance that drove customers away.
“Ronnie, do you think we can find the Earl later if we leave?”
“In the worst case, we’ll just meet up with him at the entrance. Things have gotten like this, so we can’t just ignore it.”
Cordelia and Ronnie babbled before chasing after Shelley and the man. The man turned around and laughed a little.
“Hmm? I don’t need you two. Ojou-san, run.”
“Yeah. Well, I’ll carry you so we won’t be late.”
The man said before lifting Shelley like she was a bag of rice, then he ran into an alley.
(That’s obviously not an attitude one would use towards a customer. Why is she not struggling?!)
However, Cordelia noticed that Shelley’s behaviour was strange. It probably felt uncomfortable being held like that, but she wasn’t reacting at all.
Did he put her to sleep with a drug? This is already a crime.
“Ojou-sama, I’ll go ahead!”
The man wasn’t running very fast, so Ronnie should be able to catch up if he dashed in a straight line, but the narrow alley was stacked with wooden boxes from the stalls. The pile of boxes occasionally collapsed because the man was running all over the place, and got in the way of Ronnie’s chase. Ronnie got rid of the boxes with magic every time, but the man got furtherer away from them because it took time to get rid of the boxes. Even so, Ronnie can catch up to the man if he ran with all his might, and no matter how far the man ran, he couldn’t get that far away from Cordelia.
(If it was a bit easier to run…!)
Cordelia had trained herself a little after the Flora Silk incident, but she was reaching her limit.
Still, she clenched her teeth and continued to run, then she saw that there was a lot of dust in the surrounding buildings. After a while, Ronnie gradually slowed down and signalled Cordelia with his left hand. The man had stopped.
Ronnie turned around, raised his index finger to his lips and signalled her to be quiet.
Cordelia nodded, and Ronnie slowly approached the building from the other side.
(He has comrades, so he’s obviously a hoodlum.)
Two other men, who had similar appearances, to the first was already there.
They looked around before entering the vacant building.
“That doesn’t look like a shop.”
“You’re right. I want to call the knights, but I’m worried about that girl. Can’t we do something?”
“Understood. But, Ojou-sama, you’re really good friends with trouble. Do you want to get exorcised?”
“Let’s see, I’ll think about it.”
Ronnie had spoken frivolously, but he had already began concentrating. He was squinting his eyes more than usual so that he could see the flow of magic from within.
“Ojou-sama, I’m going inside for a moment, so don’t act on your own. You absolutely can’t act on your own.”
“Of course not. Are there three people inside apart from Shelley-san?”
“That’s right. If one of them gets out, can you stop him? But you can’t let him see you or get close to him.”
“Then, I’m going now!”
Cordelia waited quietly on the spot for Ronnie to rush out in victory. She also prepared the seed which she carried at all times for support, but the noisy room went quiet straight away, and she didn’t need to use the seed.
Ronnie completely his job skilfully like he always did, and when she popped her head out, he beckoned her to come to him.
“I tied them up with what I could find for the time being. The girl’s sleeping, but there’s not really anything wrong with her. So, I’m going to launch the reinforcement signal to call for help.”
“You had something like that?”
“Well, I do, or rather I made it… It makes a blasting sound, and white smoke rises from it, so someone should come. I really want to call for help secretly, but I can’t leave Ojou-sama and the hoodlums behind. I made it because I thought I would be troubled if I encountered a situation like this… but I didn’t want to use it if I could avoid it.”
It sounded almost like fireworks from Ronnie’s explanation. Fireworks weren’t something common in this world, so people will realise that something unusual had happened, and someone on patrol will come.
“You’re making a complicated face.”
“Something is bothering me.”
“There are traces that they were staying here, but there’s no evidence that shows they had kidnapped other children. Or perhaps I should say, it hasn’t been long since they made this their base. However, is something else bothering you, Ojou-sama?”
“Yes, quite a few things.”
I’ve stopped Shelley’s kidnapping this time, but the thing Ghost told me about probably hasn’t been resolved. If what he had told me was about this incident, then the kidnappers couldn’t have gone ahead with their plan unless they knew that she would be out. It would be difficult for them to ambush her even if they knew she was going out beforehand.
(If the information was leaked out beforehand, then it can only be from Earl Zakharov.)
It’s possible that he spoke about this to an acquaintance, or that someone eavesdropped on him. But, he said he received the ticket from his friend today, so would he even have time to tell other people about his outing? Would the Earl even tell people that he’s taking a town girl to the circus?
(If he did tell someone, then it would only be to those close to him.)
Cordelia distrusted Earl Zakharov more than she doubted him.
But even so, I can’t conclude that Earl Zakharov was involved in this because it was too crude.
(Either way, she’ll be put under the protection of the knights.)
I don’t know how long she will be under protection for, but she’ll at least be protected while they investigate this matter.
(And, can I call this a blessing in disguise? I can use this to talk to Otou-sama. I should be close to solving this.)
With Shelley’s safety guaranteed, Cordelia had to first settle the suspicions she held towards Earl Zakharov.
“But we’ll have to go to the castle again now.”
“We have to explain what happened, don’t we?”
That’s really upsetting.
“You didn’t do anything dangerous, so I don’t think they’ll get mad at you… Probably. Let’s say the girl was acting a bit dangerously, we couldn’t stop her and so we followed her. Is that alright?”
They agreed on the same story. I’ll do my best, so I can quickly go home, Cordelia vowed as she watched the knights come due to Ronnie’s rescue signal.