The splendid cow shivered and cried, her head hanging down.
Normally shed only do one at a time, but now… she sure is good at multitasking when she needs to or wants to.
As I stroked Pochis head, I stared at the checkpoint that appeared before us.
‘They seemed to have been aware of our approach from a good distance ahead.
However, thanks to our easygoing atmosphere and my illusion spells, they were not at all alarmed.
Both Chiquiata and Dīnō seemed to be on guard for a moment when they saw us, but that was all – just a moment.
Hmm, thesetransformation spells are quite convenient.
“Is something the matter, Aki”
Startled by my call, Aki shook his head to expel any wicked thoughts that may have surfaced.
When we arrived at Chiquiatas checkpoint, a Toued officer took one look at our cart.
Not that there was anything to look at… it had been taken out of thin air, after all.
“What, you folks just made a trade”
Id written that in the script, sure, but did it really have to be at the same time!
Weve delivered our wares to Radeata and just got back.”
“Hmm… and you went without an escort Gotta be pretty risky, isnt it”
Now that Ive thought about it, in this era, there was no way an average person could have gone through that cave without at least a convoy of sorts.
The officer tilted his head.
“M-mah pas strong as heck! He aint need no escort, foo!”
I mean, who wouldnt be Thisgirl is adorable!
Its thecringe… Yes, the pure cringe reflecting in Akis teary eyes prompted the officer to hurry and get things over with.
Even Chiquiata heaved a sigh and went away to lean on a wall.
Perhaps this was what Bright had been sent to Toued for – Well, obviously not, but the impression hed made was so strong that the joke even sounded plausible.
I dare say, hes more like a girl than even Lady Ferris had ever shown to be.
After the rest of the process, we paid our entry taxes and proceeded through the simple inspection process.
Now that I thought about it, this might have been the very first time Id set foot on another Nation.
Perhaps I should have worn clothes that were popular in the Holy Nation instead… But then again, we were going through the process just fine, so I suppose it was all good.
Anyways, this place was bound to have new information for me – things one couldnt find in literature.
Now Im feeling inspired to do some research.
And so, while we were waiting on the entry inspections…
“Moo~~ …no moo~~…”
…Our cow had a mix of dangerous cries in her noises.
What could have compelled her to improvise variations of her line, not to mention ones that could get us in trouble
Once the inspections were done, we moved away from the checkpoint.
Once we were on the other side of the hills, out of sight of the checkpoint, I let loose and heaved a deep sigh.
“And so weve officially crossed the border… finally.”
“Moo~~~~ NO MOOORRRREEEEEEEEE!!”
Tired of Pochis constant thrashing and tugging of her reins, I disengaged Pochi and Chappies illusion spells.
Mm-hm, the transformations sure were convenient.
I hadnt expected it to fool the eyes of someone as perceptive as Chiquiata.
Perhaps it could be put to more use with the Devil Kings resurrection.
Right, Ive got to think about a lot of things once theres some free time.
I put the cart away in the Storeroom.
Pochi and Chappie, freed at last from their c.u.mbersome forms, collapsed into the tall grass by the side of the road.
Other than Bright, the one among us who had rendered distinguished service was perhaps Chappie.
Despite being the one Id initially had the most worries about, he had never stopped playing his part.
And of course, I didnt forget about Leon.
He had been hiding in my shirt, and had not made even a single sound – quite amazing, really.
“Well done, Chappie.”
“Ngh… I never expected losing the ability to speak would be so agonizing…! I dont really mind becoming an ox, but its still something I wouldnt want to do often, father!”
“You did good too, Shiro.”
“Master… you pervert!!”
Bah… and Pochis angry.
But me, a pervert Inconceivable.
Still, I suppose Ive got to commend her, what with her going through with the transformation despite how much she hated it.
Lets just apologize and be done with it, I suppose.
“Sorry, I guess.”
“Now you owe me another favor, sir!”
Looks like shes in quite a bad mood.
Id never expected this time and place for me to owe my first favor to her since we had departed on our journey.
In the past 800 years, Pochi had invoked thisdebt of mine only twice.
Just twice, but man, were they memorable…
The first time was about two-hundred years after Pochi had become my Familiar, when I had accidentally eaten a dessert that Pochi had saved up.
What Id had to do was invent new sweets for her every day until I got something that she was satisfied with.
It had taken me a year and two months to get that done.
As for the second time, it was on our four-hundredth year together.
Still quite fresh in my memory.
After all, it was on the anniversary of the day Pochi had become my Familiar.
See, I hadnt realized that until much later, but I did find it strange that Pochi had suddenly become selfish on that day, asking when the party was going to start and telling me to massage her shoulders.
At the time, I had been busy researching introductory magecraft after mastering large-scale magic, and had not been able to spend time with her.
From the next day on, Pochis attitude had been terrible.
She wouldnt talk to me and kept getting in the way of my research, so I had resorted to that second favor to get her to forgive me.
And what wed done for that was switch our Lord-Retainer dynamics for a month.
Id had to keep calling herLady Pochi until my throat had gone dry, and nod in agreement with her every statement – all in all, it was scary as all hell.
For her to demand one again after four hundred years of mutual trolling… she must have really hated what shed gone through.
“Soooooo… what favor do I owe you exactly”
Tilting my head so far down that it looked like my neck would break, I asked Pochi…
“Ill think about it!”
…And that was all she said.
Her grumpiness was gone in an instant.
Now she started humming and brushing her own fur.
Surely shes enjoying thinking up ways to get her revenge on me.
Feeling a chill creep over me, I rubbed my shoulders.
Speaking of which, I wonder whats going on with the beautiful young lady- I mean young man, who hadnt spoken a word since we were done with the inspections
Turning around, I saw Aki standing alone on the highway, covering his face with his hands.
“Is something the matter”
“Just… leave me alone for a moment, please.”
So I left him alone.
Still, Bright dressed as a girl… I kinda wanted June to see it.
She would be either so enraged that blood would shoot up to her eyes, or so excited that shed bleed out halfway to death from her nose.
Maybe I could tell her about it just as Im about to leave this era.
She wouldnt be able to kill me then.
Right, Ill think about doing that.
Taking a break on the side of the road, we sat ourselves on a patch of grass.
Once Pochi was done grooming her fur, Chappie had mentally recovered, and Aki – still in his disguise – could bring himself to approach me again, we got ready to head into Eddo, the capital of Toued.
“Instructor! When will you let me change my clothes! We should be safe now, arent we!”
I was tempted to keep him that way for a while longer, what with how entertaining it had been… but Bright was clearly not having fun, so I undid the illusion spells on him and myself, then we changed our clothes back.
Buying some local clothes for Bright to wear would be a good idea, too, but weve got too many things to get done before that…
The first on the list would be to find us an inn, I suppose.
~~Toued West Gate~~
In the distance, we could see the cliff wed just been on, from where wed peeked down at the town so many times before… Now that I got a closer look, Eddo sure looked like some kind of fantastical land.
The stores lined up in rows were the same as in any other territory, but all the people here were short, relatively speaking.
People of the Holy Nation could be seen here and there, and they really stood out.
Taking a look around, I was reminded of the restaurant I used to frequent with Gaston, Irene, and Billy.
Toued… the atmosphere here didnt feel any different from my era far in the future, so perhaps this Nation was one that highly valued its traditions.
Hmm, maybe when I get back, I should take Haruhana, Natsu, and Fuyu on a trip – theyll probably appreciate it.
Still, Im not sure if I could call this mystical or what, but all the women in town looked and felt so… solemn.
If someone as showy as Chiquiata were to walk around here, would she be arrested, I wonder
Anyway, Id better get Brights attire set up – mine doesnt matter quite as much.
With that in mind, I went into a nearbyyorozuya – pretty much a general store with added miscellaneous services – and picked some clothes for Bright, getting them tailored to fit him.
Fortunately for me, all sundry expenses on our mission were covered by the Adams household.
Though that still didnt mean we could splurge, I was quite thankful to not have to worry about money, what with it being the first issue that had plagued us when we had first arrived in this era.
What I got for Bright was a gray and black stitch-patterned traditional dress, tied together loosely with a black sash.
Perhaps somewhat modest for a member of an aristocratic household, but it suited him well, and more importantly, since he had to hide himself from enemies, it was just right.
Bright himself had agreed to it, naturally.
He changed into his new clothes right here and picked for himself a pair of sandals before we headed for an inn.
An ideal place would be one thats not too cheap – somewhere that an average person could not afford… and also permits entrance to Familiars.
We went around searching for one, and found that in Toued, such places were calledhatagoya, meaning travelers lodgings.
I was particular with my choice this time not only because of the presence of a noblemans kid – namely Bright – within our ranks, but also for another strange reason…
Once I arrived at theTougenshuku, an inn a little north of the center of Eddo, and went to our room, I immediately deployed a Spell Circle while keeping an eye on my surroundings.
Upon activating it, the entire room was covered in a pale light and a black silhouette appeared from within.
Right – it was no wonder that Leon became more cautious.
What appeared from the Spell Circle – the Teleportation Spell Circle, was the person who had cared for Leon, but one that Leon was not at all fond of.
“Hehehehe… As unfond of me as usual, I see.”
Bright, confused by what had just happened, had his mouth drop open.
Oh, right… hed never seen a Teleportation Spell Circle be invoked before, and Id just gone ahead and done it so casually.
Well, not that this was any issue, what with him already knowing that the spell was a thing, but he seemed to be more surprised by the person who emerged from it.
And because of a prior agreement Id had with the person in question, Id only explained to Pochi that this would be happening, so Chappie seemed to be a bit surprised as well.
Brights dry voice named the person in question.
The name was Polco Adams, the head of the Adams household.
Such an important man, sneaking into Toued for a secret mission… What is even going on anymore