The city of Derufoi was filled with liveliness.
The sun hasn´t risen yet, but the city was in a festive mood full of disorder.
Although the sound of the spectacular musical performance at the parade and the sound of the singing voice of drunk people that was out of tone to the musical notes, and also the jumbled up and dissonant sound of the shouts of the peddlers filled the surroundings with turmoil, the expressions of the people coming and going through the main street were all smiling. It was as if they had forgot about the strife of washing blood with blood that happened some months ago.
“Now, now, come and see! The fire ring jumping that is rarely seen in the world!”
A clown wearing a red and green costume was performing tricks with a ring of fire. It seems that he was having an animal he had trained go through the ring of fire. Next to him, there was a big man wearing cat ears, playing the fool and walking while playing a trumpet. Behind him, there was a boy decorated in feathers swinging his drumsticks at a small drum, and behind him…. the magnificent masquerade parade went on.
Everyone was looking at the lively parade and the other performances with smiles.
…But to the parade which was making everyone excited, there was only person… A small girl that was glaring at it with an extremely cold eyes.
“…So carefree… This city.”
The small girl, Riku Barusak, muttered. Bored, while having her hand inside her pocket, she made her way through the crowd of people.
“I think it is good, though? It is good for relieving some stress.”
The rabbit eared boy, Roppu Nezaarand, said. Roppu´s eyes were fixed at the parade. His big round eyes wouldn´t stop looking at it. As if the parade was something extremely interesting, his eyes were sparkling. Riku gave a glance at the parade as if she was looking at some worthless thing. The parade didn´t impress Riku. Once again taking her eyes away from the parade, Riku looked ahead.
“This is running away from reality. It´s simply that.”
Riku kept walking, strongly stepping at the pavement on each step. While walking, she started to think that the city of Derufoi hadn´t changed since the last time she had come. There wouldn´t be any city that would have changed when not even one year had passed, but she didn´t think that the city wouldn´t have changed at all. It felt as if only this city had been unaffected by the time.
Its food stalls, its clamor; nothing changed.
The only difference from that time was that now it was a refreshing blue sky and the autumnal weather. Other than that, it would be Riku´s own mental state. It felt to her that she had been a bit more excited than now in the last time she had come to Derufoi. Where had these feelings gone to? While pondering about that, she adjusted the position of the halberd at her back.
“Then, Roppu. Is it around here?”
While holding the letter, Riku asked Roppu. Hurriedly opening the map, Roppu checked their location.
“Ye-yes. It is at the shop at the next turn.”
“…I see. Thank you.”
Riku glanced through her surroundings.
Even though Derufoi was crowded with people because of the costume festival, it didn´t change the fact that this was a human city. Leaving the command of her troops to Vrusto and bringing only the messengers Roppu and Karula together with her, she sneaked inside the city. Because Karula was at standby outside the city, actually only Riku and Roppu had gone inside the city.
…In other words, there were no demons other than Roppu in the city.
The only person the spiritualists would aim for would be Roppu. It was necessary to have him disguise himself so that the spiritualists wouldn´t be able to guess he was a demon. Originally, except for his rabbit ears, Roppu´s appearance resembled one of a human. If he was insist those ears were only a [headgear], in most of the cases, they would be able to fool the spiritualists. But if they were still suspecting them despite that, just like the time she had hid Keity Fostar from the spiritualists, Riku could simply use the fact she was a human.
Riku was a human. Because of that, it wasn´t necessary for the spiritualists to aim for her life.
However, after the incident at the royal capital, the possibility that the fact [Riku Barusak was alive] had become known to the spiritualists wasn´t small. In fact, when they had launched an attack at the [land the Demon Lord was sealed] some days ago, Riku had heard some spiritualists talking about Riku. In case Riku´s appearance was informed to the common spiritualists, Riku wouldn´t be able to use the fact she was a human and trick them. Rather, this would only be more evidence for them to doubt Roppu was a demon.
Because of that, the need to be more cautious than the previous time she had come here increased.
Right after Riku finished confirming that there was nobody suspicious at the surroundings, Roppu let out a confused voice.
“What is it?”
“Just now, I saw Asty-san there!”
Riku´s eyes arrived at the place Roppu was looking at.
At that direction, there was a stall grilling skewered meat. Although this really was the type of stall Asty was fond of, there was no way she could be at Derufoi. Riku had ordered her to do an investigation back at the possible location of the seal of the Demon Lord. If the information Riku had was correct, Asty should have gone to a cavern at the south that was two days away from here by horse. No matter how much she strained herself, there was no way she would have been able to come here in time.
“It should be someone else that looked like her. She is in a mission right now after all.”
“Is that so? ….I was certain it was the Asty-san herself… But that is right. There is no way she could be here, right? I am very sorry.”
“That´s right. There is no way she could be here.”
For Roppu to have said that, Riku became a bit worried about his words.
Vrusto was a demon that would play jokes all the time, but Roppu was an earnest young soldier that wouldn´t do something like that. He wouldn´t speak of vague information to her, speaking of it only after he confirmed it himself, and when he would speak of vague things, he would meekly speak about it in a jumbled way.
But this time, he had properly said he had seen Asty. Since he had said it properly, he should have really seen Asty. Probably, it wasn´t simply someone that looked like her, but actually the person herself.
Riku glanced through the crowd of people one more time.
However, she couldn´t find anyone that looked like Asty. Asty wouldn´t be able to completely hide her tall stature amidst the crowd, so she either went to hide somewhere else or hurriedly ran away once she noticed Roppu had spotted her. In either case, from what Riku could see, it didn´t seem like she was around here.
“…Has it been leaked that I was going to be here?”
Riku wondered.(TL note: I don´t know what this is supposed to meanリクは口の中で反芻した:/ What is this口の中? ¬¬)
The information about the letter Roppu had delivered to her… Or rather, the information about this secret message was only known by Riku, Roppu and Vrusto. She had given only an ambiguous explanation to Karula, who was now at standby outside the city. It was possible that the more other demons knew about this, the more dangerous it would become in case this was a trap. Because of that, Riku had carefully decided the day she would come here, and so, it was supposed to have gone well.
Why had Asty found out about this information?
No, if it is Asty that it is being talked about, it felt like she would come to where Riku was even if she had to push her way through the crowd of people, and then coming forward to help her. Despite of that, for her to not have done that, it was possible to imagine that she had a reason for why she needed to hide herself.
…What in the world could her situation be for her to need to hide herself from her superior officer she was in direct command of?
After pondering about it after some time, Riku lowered her voice by one level and spoke.
“Roppu… Let´s decide on a signal.”
With the signs enjoyment fading away from his eyes, they had become filled with seriousness.
“Listen, the real intention behind this letter is unknown. It might be a trap. That´s why just in case something unexpected happens, I will go inside the shop by myself.”
With Riku saying that, Roppu showed a worried face. Originally, it was supposed for him to go together with Riku as a witness for her, but because Asty was doing something suspicious, she needed to be as much careful as she could. With how the situation became like that, Riku regretted she hadn´t brought at least one more trustworthy subordinate here.
“Will I be waiting for you outside?”
“As a lookout. If any problem happens, I will come to you right away, so don´t worry. Right… Whistle twice to call me.”
Riku whispered next to Roppu´s ears.
Once she gets inside the shop, she could only count on her hearing to catch the signal. Sure enough, she didn´t know how meaningful this would be in the middle of so much noise, but this was the best thing possible.
“Yes, understood. Please, be careful.”
Silently lowering down his head, Roppu took some distance from Riku. Once again wrapping herself in an indifferent mood, Riku increased her guard over the surroundings.
She didn´t spot any suspicious person or anyone that looked like Asty. …However, she felt some kind of bad feeling. Was she overthinking it? While wondering about that, Riku pushed the door of the shop.
Right after entering the shop, Riku was elegantly greeted by the shop attendant. Just like the other shops, most of its clients were wearing costumes. However, differently from the shops she had went in before, the attendant wasn´t wearing a costume.
Telling the shop attendant she had an appointment, she was guided to a private room.
“It has been a long time.”
At the private room, the other party had already been waiting for her.
Confirming there wasn´t anyone at the rooms next to that one, Riku closed the door. That private room was well distant from the other rooms. With that, the possibility of someone eavesdropping should be low. Even if someone came, there wouldn´t be any problems of people hearing their conversation. (TL note: 他に誰かやってこないか耳を立てていれば、なにも問題ない。Not sure about what this means.)
“Yes, it has been.”
Riku put the letter on the table. And then, she tapped with her finger at the part she had been intrigued with.
“I will tell you the real location of where the Demon Lord was sealed.”
Riku read out loud the sentence she was tapping on. As if she was guessing her real intentions, Riku glared at her intensely.
“You, who is a human… What are you planning on doing, priestess of the blindness… Shibira-san?”