A few weeks have passed. The time since Anata found me has been… rough. After coming to his senses the Yuusha disappeared in the Chaos. Between the undead wave that devastated much of the city and the Yuusha’s disappearance, residence of the capital’s morale has been horrible. The previously lively streets and markets lay mostly empty, and those that can be seen wandering the streets look tired and afraid.
Even if the news of his disappearance might have been good news for me, I can understand why they would be so upset. If he doesn’t resurface before one year is up, then by everything they have been taught a horrible disaster will befall the world unabated.
“I’m back,” I say as I return to my room in my now near-permanent residence at the inn
“Welcome back! How did the relief efforts go?” Anata ask me as she finishes up brushing Mana’s hair
Anata has been staying with our party since the Yuusha’s disappearance. It seems to have hit her harder than anybody. She also wanted to take part in the disaster relief efforts that our party took up at the request of the guild.
“It went alright. I mostly helped with construction again today. For the most part, we’ve managed to clear up the rubble and tear down the buildings that need to be rebuilt entirely. I don’t know how much help I am going to be once they switch gears to repairs.” I say as I rub my head in frustration
These efforts have basically become a full-time job, and have left very little time for me to focus on growing stronger or to learn more about magic. Even with high stamina, the constant use of magic compounded on the seemingly endless amount of work has been mentally draining. Usually, I wouldn’t be making such a huge detour, but this city coming to ruin was my fault start to finish. I have to… make it right.
“I don’t think you will need to worry about that, while you were gone a royal summons got delivered. My dad has called for your entire party to attend a ceremony tomorrow at the castle.” Anata says with a faint smile
“…I guess it’s time then.” I say as I slump down on the bed
“We can only wait so long for Hark to come back. Even with things left unresolved, it was pretty clear to most people that you had the fight won. If dad doesn’t hand the prize over to you then it will drag the royal family’s name through the mud. If there is one thing he cares about, it’s appearance.” She continues, towards the end of her statement her brushing becomes a bit more aggressive
In spending more time with Anata I’ve learned a few things. The first is that she and her father are not on good terms. She largely joined the Yuusha’s party in the first place as an excuse to get away from him. The second is that she has nearly no claim to the throne. With 6 sisters that are older than her, she is almost inconsequential to the royal family. Talking about it seems to be a bit of a sore subject for her.
“I don’t personally think it matters whether he gives it to us now or later. Either way, we won’t be able to check it out until things have stabilized here.” I say as I try to think ahead to the future
I’m still not safe, not by a long shot, but with the Yuusha out of the picture I might be able to take advantage and gain a head start. Along with the relics and gear we will find at the previous Maou’s castle, there is also the support of the kingdom. If I can get them to think of me as the Yuusha’s stand-in, I might be able to learn more about their hunt for the Maou, and leverage that support to defeat the Yuusha.
“That’s not the case at all!” Anata says as she stops brushing Mana’s hair and turns to look at me
“With the relics inside the Maou’s castle, we should be able to speed up the relief effort by months! I’m sure the royal family would pay you a fortune for them right now!” She nearly pleads while looking at me
She makes a good point, but we have some conflicting interests. Magic items are by no small means a huge tactical advantage in times of conflict from what I’ve learned. Once compounded on the stats of those that fight for a living, even the smallest bonus to strength can raise someone from a danger into a catastrophe. On the other hand, simple items like those used for storage or generation of cheap resources like water can be used to streamline supply lines. Knowingly giving those kinds of things to an enemy I’m almost sure to face would be a huge mistake on my part.
On the other hand, if it would speed up the recovery effort than my obligation to stay here instead of growing stronger would disappear. It would also be unfair of me to make the people currently suffering continue to do so for much longer.
I continue to rub my head in frustration.
“Fine! I’ll go, I’ll go! Not like it was my choice anyway!” I say, finally giving up
There is something that doesn’t sit well in my stomach knowing that I am doing what the king wants. Even outside of being the Maou that just reeks of trouble.