36 Wonderful and Miraculous Magical Girls
「So you haven’t been able to find her…」
「Yes, I don’t have any words to defend my failure…」
Inside the royal office were the concerned looking King, the guard captain Burgle who had just finished his report, and the third princess, Morena.
One month had already passed since the viscount’s daughter, no the current head of the family, Adel von Askam had vanished.
「I thought we would find her in half a day since she couldn’t have gotten far by foot, but the search parties we sent down the highways haven’t found of trace of her either on the streets or in the villages…
We also sent several men out far enough that she couldn’t have gotten there even by carriage, to overtake her and search backwards, but they had no success either. So she probably has forgone the streets and entered the forests and might have already fallen prey to bandits or ruthless travelers…」
「That shouldn’t have come to pass. If she was in danger, That would come out, wouldn’t it.」
The King had the guts to call a goddess “that”.
「After that we tried following the lead inside the letter left to her friends about 『living peaceful in some remote village』 and searched wide and far, but had no luck in finding her….
She might be living alone in the woods somewhere or has maybe even passed the border…」
Not to mention sending soldiers into another country to look for her, just the fact that their people were searching for something becoming know was enough of a problem. And even if they found her, forcefully taking her along might lead to an international dispute.
But abducting her under the cover of night wasn’t feasible either. If they angered the goddess, their country would fall to ruin.
「That person has escaped because she was unaware that the affair with her family has been settled, right? Wouldn’t it be fine to simply inform her of this?
If we just scatter the fact that the perpetrators were caught, and that it’s safe to return, around the country to ease her fears and incite her to return.」
When the Princess proposed this, the King and Burgle grimaced.
「We sadly can’t do that… The incident this time shames the crown. And although we can’t stop the rumors, there is no need for the country to make it official.」
Picking up where the King left off, Burgle continued explaining.
「In truth, I talked to the girls she had befriended in school multiple times in hopes of gaining any clues on her destination, but…」
「How did it turn out?」
「This is the transcript of our conversations…」
The Princess took the piece of paper Burgle had taken out of his bag and let her eyes wander over it.
『That girl can live anywhere.』
『Things she is good at? Breaking the spirit of boys, I guess?』
『Places where she’d go? As a customer, heaven and as an employee, hell…』
『That’s what I want to know!』
『Even though I was supposed to take care of that girl!』
『She has finally obtained freedom. As if a bird that has escaped from its cage would return on its own.』
『She’ll run away like the wind~. You’re probably never going to catch her.』
『She can perfectly blend in with the commoners. Really, it makes me wonder if she really is a noble…』
「W-What is this…」
「Just what exactly is that girl…..」
The King and Princess, father and daughter were both baffled.
After a period of silence the Princess suddenly shouted out.
「I want to meet with the people that person called friends! I want to hear from them what kind of human that person is!」
「Hmm, that might be worth a thought… It could result in a hint for the search and Morena might take something away from the experience.」
Burgle kept silent on the words his King had uttered after a few moments of deliberation.
Three days later, in a small room inside the royal palace, eleven people were seated around a table.
Even though it was considered small, as a part of the royal palace, it was still a full fledged conference room, decorated with all manners of luxury articles. Lavish furniture, sweets and fruits were placed on the table next to exquisite cups filled with black tea.
Present for the royal side were the King, the first Prince who was about to turn 16, Adalbert, the fifteen year old third Princess Morena, as well as her thirteen year old brother Vince, the second Prince. Also present were the guard captain Burgle, as well as the specially invited Count Bonham with company, for a total of 8 persons. The Bonham family had been called due to their involvement in the incident and since the wife of Count Bonham in particular was knowledgeable about the Askam house, and would certainly like to wish what had happened to Adel, the memento of her best friend.
The remaining guests who had been called were the ones most knowledgeable about Adel. Yes, the renown Wonderful and Miraculous Magical Girls.
「Ah, umm, we are h-humbled to have been invited…」
「Ah, it is fine to loosen up. Today is an informal tea party, so there is no need to worry about the proper etiquette. Right now I’m but a father watching over the first time my daughter has invited friends.」
Since even the representative of the trio, Marcella, who though quite far down the ladder was a noble, had turned stiff, the commoners Monika and Oriana hadn’t been able to utter a single word.
And the reason that Monika and Oriana hadn’t spoken a single syllable yet was not only because they were nervous.
Three days ago.
After a messenger from the palace had delivered an invitation for a tea party hosted by the Princess to the trio.
「You understand? This is almost certainly an attempt to get any information about that girl. Don’t spill the secret, no matter what!」
Oriana and Monika readily nodded their heads in agreement.
「That girl is at best a little bit talented. She doesn’t use any strange magic or says things like 『What if there was another world』, just a very average girl. Just as she herself always said.
Let’s just ignore that a real average girl wouldn’t emphasize that point day in day out.」
「We’ll start building a setting for that girl, what is fine to say and what not, and drill that into our heads. And just to be on the safe side, I’ll answer most of their questions. Otherwise we might contradict each other and let something slip. Okay?」
Monika and Oriana strongly nodded.
And then three days later, today.
The plan was to leave most of the questions and answers to Marcella, with Monika and Oriana staying with topics they had thoroughly memorized and only throwing in small affirmations or denials otherwise.
With the King and the other adults being seated a little bit away from the children intended to have it appear as a conversation between the children, Marcella and friends were confronted with Princess and both Princes.
The two Princess were here under the pretext that having a 1 vs 3 situation would make it hard to speak for the Princess, but of course the adult’s goal lied elsewhere. They wanted to have the Princes get a feel for what kind of person Adel was, so that when she was found they could be introduced to her, and other plans for the future like this were on their minds.
With none of Princess Morena’s older sisters in attendance in favor of both Princes. This was a little bit too obvious.
「Nice too meet you, I am the third Princess, my name is Morena…」
「I’m the first Prince, Adalbert.」
「I am the second Prince, Vince.」
After the royal children, Marcella’s group introduced themselves.
「Eckland Academy, second year, my name is Marcella.」
Since the invitation this time was directed towards them as students, Marcella chose not to use her family name just like the other two.
「Similarly, I am Monika.」
「My name is Oriana…」
After that silence descended. The adults were only onlookers, so they didn’t introduce themselves or interfere. As long as they didn’t see the need to.
「The reason we invited you today was that we hoped you could tell us about Adel-san…」
(((Just as we expected!!)))
Well, they had guessed it beforehand, so it wasn’t really that surprising.
There was no other reason for people like the three of them to be called to the royal palace.
Combine a vanishing classmate, a persistent investigation by people related to the palace, rumors of those people searching for someone with the rumor of a scandal surrounding a certain noble family…
Even though Ekland Academy’s standing was low, quite a lot of its students were part of the nobility. Rumors among noble families, especially scandalous ones, were quite often shared among the students. And this time Burgle told them part of the story when he returned their letter. Since they had added being told about the situation later on as a condition for lending him their letter.
And although he had skipped the whole goddess part, he still told them the truth about the internal dispute of the Askam family which, combined with what Adel had told them before, left them with a mostly accurate picture of reality. That and Marcella had caught wind of a certain kind of rumor.
Absurd things in the vein of 『The third Princess having met a divine messenger』 or that 『the Goddess has descended in the capital』, yet similar rumors had come to her through different routes. Additionally, it had happened on the day Adel works at the bakery, around the time she usually returns, on a street she usually passes on her way back. And a small girl with silver hair accomplishing feats of divinity.
(Ah, this is that girl’s fault…)
Was what Marcella had thought the instant this story had reached her ears. And that it had only been a matter of time until something like this happened.
(Honestly, what’s the point of being that insistent on us keeping silent, if you yourself pull stunts like this…)
Such were Marcella’s true feelings.
「What kind of person is Adel-san? What did she usually talk about?」
Right from the start, Morena went for a straightforward approach.
Morena had received the full education of a princess, so although her upright upbringing might make her seem simple minded at times, she was by no means an idiot. She treated girls three to four years her junior as equals, spoke to them politely, and didn’t show the slightest sign of ridiculing them. Although the cause for this might also be that she didn’t view them as just students but as 『that person’s most trusted friends』.
Seeing the earnest expression and sparkling eyes of Morena, Marcella thought.
(I will protect Adel’s secret until the bitter end! And I will do my best to make the Princess a beneficial existence for Adel!)
Her subtle trembling had stopped some time ago without her notice, and before she had known it, Marcella was back to her normal, calm self.
(Prepare yourself, third Princess Morena, here I come!!)