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「Ahaha, really I'm sorry. Coming at this hour. Furthermore it seems that I'm being a hindrance to everyone's work.」
The one who came to the room looking like he was really sorry while frequently bowing his head was a middle aged man without any conspicuous trait.
His attire like his suits or hair style was well-ordered, and yet on the whole he was wrapped with lax atmosphere that naturally would make the other party felt like letting their guard down.
「Fukube-san yourself, it must be hard for you. Being outside the jurisdiction of labor standards act is the harshness of being a public servant.」
「No no, you are making too much of a big deal for the like of me. On the contrary, to think that a maid this beautiful will welcome my arrival, it really blow away my fatigue.」
The man who was smiling while glancing aside to Heliotrope who was showing the way was someone from "returnee response division" who was shouldering the role as contact person with the returnees (basically with Hajime), Fukube Koutarou.
In a glance his face looked like a good person, Hajime and Liliana saw through how deep inside his eyes was emitting a sharp glint. In contrast with his lax atmosphere, he was a person who couldn't be underestimated.
That could be seen from how this man had already continued to shoulder the role of being a contact person with Hajime for more than a year. Being involved with Hajime and co would guarantee anyone to be afflicted with stomachache, for this man's predecessors, being able to stay in the job for three months could be considered as amazing.
By the way, "returnee response division" was a new department that was made from many organizations related with returnees building a cooperation system. The section was under the jurisdiction of the police's security division after a fashion, but various related departments in the government like the public security intelligence agency and ministry of foreign affairs and so on were sending their people to get closely involved and coordinated with each other while making it so they could response to situation comprehensively.
It was a section that was made after in the past the government got involved in this and that in the "returnee uproar", various departments made their move and as the result, all of them received retaliation that was too severe.
「And, I think that what you want to talk is about the group just now……」
「Yes, yes. It's about that matter. My deepest apology. Our side planned to deal with it before they start trouble, but they moved faster than we imagined. No, this is only an excuse. And, about the detail of the situation――」
When he was going to explain, Hajime raised his hand and stopped him, so Fukube closed his mouth. Cold sweat instantly oozed out from his face. 「Good lord-, is the demon king misunderstand that it's the government trying something again!?」 Such thinking came out on his face.
「I'm not that hasty, so don't get that pale.」
「Ha, haha. So it came out on my face? I'm still too green.」
Fukube wiped the sweat on his forehead with handkerchief. Then he threw stomach medicine of pill type into his mouth with a practiced motion.
Hajime smiled wryly at that motion of Fukube that he often witnessed and he turned his gaze toward Heliotrope.
「It seems there is circumstance regarding that group. Show them the way to the subordinates of Fukube-san who are waiting downstair. I and Liliana will her about the circumstance here.」
「Understood. How about Sumire-sama's work?」
「About that. Originally being Kaa-san's assistant is more important than accompanying some idiot but……」
Sumire shook her head left and right *bun bun* repeatedly. A foreign force assaulted with Liliana as their target, on top of that an official from public safety came visiting in order to explain the situation. As expected she didn't have the nerve to have her way saying 「The deadline is more important!」.
「And so, this concern Liliana, and it seems that Fukube-san has better grasp of the whole picture of the present situation. We will listen about the circumstance directly. During that time, I'll leave the work here to you.」
「Your will. Should I add more personnel, just in case?」
「I'll leave it to you.」
The talk was progressing unhinderedly. Liliana was murmuring 「Yes yes, my opinion won't be heard anyway. Far from that even my question is ignored. Ahaha~」 with a faraway look.
「That's how it is, Sumire-sama.」
「Ye, yes! What is it, maid-san!?」
When Sumire was addressed with a respectful attitude, she replied with heightened tension. Looking at her blushing face and her nasal breathing that was somewhat rough, it was clear that her inspiration was greatly stimulated. Perhaps her next work would have a combat maid as the main character.
「While presumptuous, will you allow me to lend you a hand?」
「But of course! Is what I want to say but……will you be all right?」
There was no way a maid from another world would have experience in assistant work for a manga artist.
Although Sumire loved maid, she was a pro manga artist. Having problem came to surface because an amateur got involved in the drawing was out of the question. She had to properly confirm it.
But, Heliotrope was completely unperturbed. She smiled beautifully and,
「Please leave it to me. My lord had made me learn everything in the case of something like this occurring. Please consider me as a battle-ready force.」
「Geez Hajime, just what is he making a maid of another world learned. I'm happy though!」
「Also, I have finished reading all of Sumire-sama's works. Your works are greatly popular even among us the Fleur Knights, all of us are holding deep respect toward Sumire-sama. Therefore, being allowed to help is an honor that is equal of receiving command from my lord.」
Heliotrope-san clenched her fist strongly and strongly insisted. Actually not just Fleur Knights, even the maids in the palace of Tortus and the young daughters of nobles were also swallowed in unprecedented shoujo manga boom.
The selling agency was South Cloud company. The majority of direct sales was undertook by a cooperating company, Yunker Company.South Cloud
Surely Sumire felt the truth and seriousness from Heliotrope's sparkling eyes. Sumire's cheeks blushed with an embarassed look that was unusual for her. Even in Japan she was treated as the great Sumire-sensei, but she looked happier with this rather than getting called that by the people in the industry.
「……Even though she has never helping me out. Hellina you idiot」
The former princess muttered something. Surely she was feeling that the attendant who had been staying at her side since her childhood was taken away. She was completely sulking.
It was unclear whether that voice was heard or not, but Heliotrope beautifully ignored it and made a finger snap.
The assistants and also Fukube-san twitched. When they noticed the number of maids was already increasing from behind Heliotrope!
It was a lovely maid with dark brown hair worn in braid that was tied with scrunchie. Her body was wrapped with similar Victorian maid outfit like Heliotrope. She was smiling warmly.
Seeing the girl, the sulking Liliana snapped open her eyes in a flash.
「I won't ask anymore how did she appear just now! But, please let me say at least this! You are Samiya-san aren't you!? The grandchild of Yunker company's president Motto! What are you doing in this kind of place!?」
「I am a maid, Liliana-sama.」
'Well of course. That's a maid uniform she is wearing.' Sumire and others were of the same opinion inside their heart.
'I'm not asking that!' Liliana was at her wits' end. Hajime explained to her straightforwardly.
「Fleur Knight rank five. She is a commanding officer class who is responsible for managing goods and information. Of course her combat ability is also without fault.」
「Why is a merchant's daughter like thaatt!?」
「Everything is thanks to the lord discovering me.」
Actually, Motto Yunker of Yunker Company who had deep relation with Hajime one way or another sent this talented person to him because he wanted to secure a connection that was as substantial as possible. To speak without hiding the ulterior motive, 「If possible I wish that you will accept her as wife, so that I can be related with your majesty the demon king as relative」, something like that.
Naturally, Hajime was also aware of Motto's merchant soul, he had also guessed his expectation, so he ignored Salvia――real name Samiya Yunker (17 years old) approach to him but……
When Hajime was working out the plan of the Fleur Knights' conception, the girl's name was written in the candidate list of Heliotrope, he tried giving her various trial as test and it turned out she was quite an outstanding talent.
By the way, Samiya herself didn't have the perception that she was made as tool for political marriage. She too was someone who inherited the merchant soul. She sniffed out the scent of money from the demon king's surrounding and the other world (earth) and volunteered herself.
But, while she was selected as a member of Fleur Knights and received trials, she went through many twists and turns and reached a point where it was her purpose in life to swear loyalty to the demon king.
The structure of Fleur Knights was that those in rank one until ten were commanding officer with their own subordinates, but when looking at how she reached rank five when those positions were mainly grasped by people with combat job as their original occupation, it could be seen how astounding her talent was and far her loyalty went that she would make great effort with that as her driving force.
「Well then Sumire-sama. Please allow me and Salvia to be of assistance.」
「I get it. Well, if Hajime trained you two then I don't think I'll have to worry about your skill, best regards okay.」
Heliotrope and Salvia deeply bowed their head and said 「Please leave it to us」, after that they also deeply bowed their head to the assistants while saying 「Honorable seniors, if there is any mistake in what we are doing, please point it out without mercy」.
All the assistants together said 「Please take care of us toooo!」 while bowing back with a perfect gesture for some reason.
「Oo!? M, me? What is it?」
Surely he never thought that he would get addressed. Fukube's middle age uncle face blushed red.
「I sent a subordinate of mine named Primula to Fukube-san's subordinates who are waiting outside. She will show the way to the place where the captured people are at. By the lord's command, we will extract information from them using our method but, please cooperate with us as much as possible.」
「Ro, roger. I will contact my subordinates now.」
When and how did Heliotrope-san contacted her subordinate? Well, she was a maid of the demon king, no~thing would be strange no matter what she did~. Fukube thought that inside his heart while taking out his mobile phone and began contacting his subordinates who came together with him.
There, Liliana asked somewhat carelessly.
「……By the way, that person named Primula-san……is she a person who I know as expected?」
Hajime answered after thinking a bit.
「You know her. Her real name is Philim Zaara――」
「Hahah, so this time it's the little sister of active captain of the sanctuary knight is iit~」
Liliana-sama looked somewhat broken. Her friends and acquaintances were transformed into members of a superhuman maid group while she didn't know.
Her state resembled Shia in the past somehow. Yes, the Shia at the time when she saw her gentle and kind family was completely turned into a 'hyahhaa' group.
By the way, the present sanctuary knight captain was David Zaara, the former captain of Ai-chan escort squad.
The legendary decisive battle was publicly seen as the deed of an evil god who misrepresented himself using the name of Ehito, so the people's faith toward the church was unchanged. And so, the church was also planned to be rebuilt at the same time with the reconstruction of the capital.
David and co, the members of former Ai-chan escort squad consolidated the knight order of that reborn church. Although, ninety percent of their faith was offered to "our goddess".
The captain of such reborn sanctuary knight order actually had a little sister. She was a former nun, a magic expert who possessed the vocation of "prayer master" who could display high ability toward magic in general by praying.
But, her relation with her eldest brother was bad, and she was sent to remote region because she was holding doubt to the way of faith of the church headquarter.
She also participated in the choir at the legendary decisive battle. There she also fought side by side with David so the ill feeling between them vanished and as a church official she gave a lot of help to Liliana who was striving hard in government affairs to restore the kingdom at that time.
Though it seemed she had changed job into combat maid without Liliana noticing. By the way her rank was sixth.
「Aa~, can I interrupt? It seems that my subordinates has joined up with Primula-san and they are heading to where the group is apprehended. Ahaha, my subordinates who are usually composed are agitated there. A blond haired beautiful maid suddenly knocked on their car window, so they thought if they had actually gone crazy.」
「Well, anyone would doubt their own eye or head if they see a blonde haired maid in midnight.」
Fukube's wry smile was also responded by Hajime with a wry smile.
「Then Fukube-san. Can you tell us the detail at the other room?」
「Yes, allow me to do that. It has become a bit of troublesome matter isn't it? If I have to say my true feeling, there is some aspect where I want to borrow Nagumo-san's strength. Of course, this is just my personal wish though.」
The government's stance was they absolutely didn't want the demon king faction to do anything, but it seemed that Fukube himself was thinking 「If that's the case then it's us the people at the scene who will have to take care of this difficult problem! Spare us already! Just how many hole in the stomach we need to have until you all are satisfied huh!」.
Led by Fukube who was casually throwing a stomach medicine pill into his mouth once more, Hajime and Liliana who was still having a distant gaze entered into another room.
To sum up the talk that they heard in the other room, it seemed that other than the group that was attacking just now, there were also intelligence operatives or force from multiple countries sent in to Japan.
Their objective went without saying. The information gathering or removal of Liliana, the leader of huge organization that was in the rise all over the world.
If it was just a leader of a mere company than the story would be different, but when it came to a global organization with an ideal that was like a new religion as its root, then it was understandable for many countries to be apprehensive.
Although, it was too sudden. It was understandable for the countries to want to take some kind of measure before the network was established as organization, be that as it may the movement of those countries were still too abrupt.
Regarding that point, according to the explanation that Fukube was giving them while oozing cold sweat, it seemed that a higher up of a part of the government messed up.
Liliana was related with the demon king, she was a contact person who could talk directly with that demon king, although it was only after a fashion, but a friendship could be built from there, that was why a scheme to gradually make Liliana's organization to belong to Japan was carried out.
The result, that movement was grasped by many countries, and they began to move all at once just in case because it would be troubling if the organization really got attached to Japan.
「Realllyy~~~~, it's inexcusable!」
Fukube-san prostrated himself. Recently, he was lamenting that the top of his head was getting desolate but……so this was the reason.
Hajime strangely felt pity and respect toward such Fukube and shook his head while smiling wryly.
「There is the saying 'danger past and God forgotten'. It's about time that the pain from the time of returnee uproar get forgotten and some bunches who think "just a bit", "only this much……" came out. I've predicted this will happen. As long as Fukube-san and others take care of it within your own organization, then our side too doesn't intend to make a move so, well, please take care of it okay.」
「Haa, it saves us that you say so. We are already working to deal with it, so please kindly go easy on us.」
Fukube showed a flagrant look of relieve and he threw a stomach medicine into his mouth with terribly natural motion. His hand's motion was flowing just like the commercial of Fris○ candies, the pills were thrown directly from its case into the mouth.
This too was a factor that caused Hajime to strongly feel pity to Fukube. Just how used he was in swallowing stomach medicine? And then, how many he was planning to drink in a day?
In exchange of Hajime who was looking at Fukube with a really complicated eyes, Liliana was making a caring expression while asking.
「So, Fukube-san. Has you all predict how will the situation develop after this? Personally, I expect that it will become a really troublesome situation though……」
「That prediction is right to the point. From what we have confirmed so far, there are already personnel from three countries who have already entered this country. There are also four countries that are definitely moving. Ideally all the country will work to gather full and accurate information, so we wish that for the time being it will be only a battle of observation but……」
「I'm not going to allow it huh.」
「Yes, Nagumo-san won't allow that. However, that means that there will be no information at all about the leader of a growing global organization. An "unknown" is something that is feared the most. Therefore, all of them will be pressed with the choices, whether to resign themselves and accept that fear, or they will take measures. I believe Hajime-san understand but……」
「They surely won't pick the former choice, unless the fact that they will meet bitter experience that won't be worth it from picking the latter choice is carved to the depth of their body. It's impossible for a country to make that choice.」
「That's how it is. Ideally, when an act of removing or kidnapping Liliana-san is going on, other country will intervene and they will remove each other but, well, something like ideal is just a word in book after all.」
Something like a choice of accepting a life of being monitored didn't exist for Hajime's side. And then, even if their side handed over some degree of information about themselves, next time those organizations would think 「Is this offered information really true?」, and as expected they would come to observe once more.
And so, in all probability, it would be as Fukube said, at the time the force of each country understood that "observation was completely neutralized", they would surely take a strong measure.
What was truly terrifying wasn't the countries that would make such decision, but the network that was growing in influence and power even now to the degree that the countries couldn't just ignore it and were forced to make such decision――in short it was Liliana's existence.
For some reason or another, Hajime and Fukube's gaze moved toward Liliana. There Liliana was having a distant look for a different reason from before.
On her face was written 「Even though I only wanted to help troubled people. Even though it's basically, only relying upon others to make it happen……how did it become like this?」 loud and clear.
Hajime and Fukube's gaze turned lukewarm at the same time, and they simultaneously averted their gaze and decided that they didn't see that.
「However, this situation. If that is the case, within a few days these bunches will gather in large numbers around us huh.」
「……Originally we want to deal with everything before it turn like that but……I'm sorry. The demon king section's――cough-, my apologies. Even for the returnee response division, honestly, we are in a situation where we don't have enough time and personnel.」
「Oi, just now, did you say demon king division? Could it be, that's the nickname at your side?」
「Diplomatic response is also starting already, but it will be better to not expect anything from it. From our view, we wish to avoid gunshot in the middle of city, we also wish to evacuate Liliana-san to a place with few people by all means in preparation of unforeseen situation, that is our suggestion, or rather our true feeling.」
Fukube beautifully ignored Hajime's question and gave suggestion with an apologetic look.
Hajime was making an awfully displeased look, but it wasn't because of Fukube's suggestion, rather it was surely because of the response division's nickname that Fukube leaked out.
National Police Agency Security Department Demon King Division……. Certainly, such police institution was disagreeable.
「I don't mind that. If I remember correctly, I shouldn't have any schedule that cannot be rearranged. After all I'm worried when a skirmish occur in a place that is outside our perception.」
「I guess. It's also troublesome if they are loitering around sporadically. Gathering them in one place and taking care of them in one go will also give better impression to those countries.」
「Then, allow me to continue the talk in that direction. About the place, we prepared several hideout for the sake of witness protection, so perhaps it will be better to use those.」
「As expected from Fukube-san. You work fast.」
Hearing Hajime's praise, for the first time this day Fukube showed a relieved smile that wasn't a forced smile or wry smile or convulsing smile.
After that, when they finished hammering out the details, the subordinates of Fukube who came together with Primula shared the information of the background, objective, the plan forward, and so on of the attackers who came.
It seemed that the information had been thoroughly extracted, they didn't ask as far as the method used but, when looking at the gaze of terror that Fukube subordinates directed toward Primula……it must be something that shouldn't be asked.
Primula, although formerly, she was a gentle and kind sister though……
「Hajime-san……you are endeavoring to act prudently in earth, but in exchange aren't you cutting too loose in Tortus?」
Liliana was looking alternately at Hajime and Primula with sad eyes. For some reason Hajime was at loss for words and averted his gaze in respond.
By the way, Heliotrope and Salvia were finishing their assistant work perfectly.
They didn't borrow the work tools, instead they had prepared them beforehand, furthermore they took them out from inside their sleeve *shakin!*, or taking them out from their breast or inside their skirt, so Sumire and co were able to have fun working while getting heated up from start to end.
Not forgetting to improve the work place's atmosphere too, they were really perfect maids.
The next day.
There were the figures of Nagumo family in a splendid lodging deep inside the mountain of a certain prefecture.
It was a mountain forest with abundant nature at the surrounding, a refreshing river was streaming right nearby.
It was a hideout for protection target that Fukube prepared. It was separated enough from human habitation, and even if some commotion occurred there would be no one who noticed.
The autumn colors of the mountain were still remaining. It could also function as refuge in the meaning of as holiday place or health resort.
This might be a consideration from Fukube in his own way toward Nagumo family who had to deal with a dangerous situation in this season when autumn was over.
Furthermore, not just Sumire and Shuu, currently even Remia and Tio were also busy people, but everyone emptied their schedule even if they had to force it and came here. Their family was being targeted. So this was only natural.
Hajime got out of the lodging and looked around the surrounding. Even the beautiful forest landscape that still had red leaves remaining would undoubtedly make a complete change in expression when night came. Thinking about when the people targeting Liliana would come, the forest at night would be a suitable cover for them. The darkness would become terribly frightening for the side who would get attacked.
But, Hajime made a fearless grin while staring at such forest.
And then――he declared.
「Now then――let's barbeque~~~!」
Nagumo family responded in high tension. They all showed wide smile on their face, with a lot of ingredients on their hands!
「Papa! Quiiick! Quiiick! Myuu's stomach is crying nano!」
「My my, Myuu. To be so happy……」
「Right, it was a bit forced but, it's good that we hath emptied our schedule for this last family trip of the autumn.」
「……Nn. This year everyone is busy, we wasn't really able to go in family trip.」
「Yue wasn't really busy though.」
「……Kaori. It will become a scuffle again if you say that. Aa, look, Yue is taking fighting pose already! Oi you! Kaori too don't take a stance with that green onion!」
Even with Shizuku's intermediation, Yue and Kaori were starting a quarrel using vegetables as weapon. Myuu was lifting a lump of A5 rank meat above her head while making merry 「Meaat, meat!」 in high spirit. Remia and Tio were watching her with similar smile.
Shia was smiling wryly at such scene while devoting herself to prepare the other ingredients promptly, beside her Liliana was helping her.
「Ahaha……well, the incident this time became a good chance. Especially because Lily-san is extraordinarily busy, she cannot really spend time with us. We owe the attackers one! Ah, come to think of it Myuu-chan. Do you want to go looking for fish in the river later? Let's fire at the fish using finger bullet♪」
「Shia-san, please fish normally! Don't make the river getting dyed crimson!」
The wive~s were clamoring 'kyaa kyaa' with high tension.
……It seemed they didn't empty their schedule because they were worried about Liliana, but they purely wanted to go to a family trip, that was all.
「……Ee~rr, then I will stand by in the operation headquarter so……」
Fukube actually accompanied them as guide, but seeing the people of Nagumo family enjoying the holiday normally without looking burdened or feeling in danger at all, he emitted a sorrowful air thinking 「Well, it's the usual thing」 while going back. Tonight too……it would be cup ramen for him. 'Let's have Ra○', he muttered inside his heart while glancing longingly at the lump of A5 rank meat. (TN: Raoh cup ramen, seems to be popular in Japan)
「Oh, Fukube-san. You are going back already? If you like please eat together with us.」
「That's right. If you don't eat properly and get some nutrition, the top of your head will rapidly get desolate you know?」
Warm (?) words from Shuu and Sumire!
Fukube turned around in a flash, his gaze turned toward Hajime. His eyes were just like a puppy that was seeking permission from its owner after getting told 「Wait!」 if front of its meal!
Inside his heart Hajime thought 「This person, at his root he is someone that you really cannot let your guard down against him but, why is he sometimes giving impression like a comedian or dog like this huh」 with a wry smile.
「You see, Nagumo-san. That's because I'm a dog of the nation.」
「……Really, even though you are someone that one must not let the guard down against」
The wry smile of Hajime whose mind was normally seen through was deepening while nodding to convey 「Okay!」.
Fukube happily rushed toward the barbeque saying 「I'll take care of the charcoal management~」. Next he said 「Ah, I also want to bring back some for my subordinates so can I pack up some?」 trying to secure a lot of meat casually.
At the corner of his sight, Hajime caught sight of Fukube eating Myuu's throwing technique when his hand reached toward the meat 「What are you going to do with Myuu's meat nano――!」 and he got thrown away. He gave a sidelong glance at that while enjoying the autumn mountain's scenery to his heart content.
AN: Thank you very much for reading this every time.
Thank you very much too for the thoughts, opinions, and reports about misspelling and omitted words.
It didn't end…the story got long when my interest is at full throttle. Ah, it's always like this……
Tomorrow I'll have to take care of the brats, so perhaps it will be impossible but, I'll update if possible.
At the very least I'll update at New Year's Day! Around midnight perhaps……
Also to everyone who comment「I bought it~」「It's interesting~」 regarding「Arifureta Zero」,
Really~~ thank you very much.
I completely wrote it on commision so, I was in suspense that perhaps it would make everyone disappointed……
I was really happy, I felt a bit relieved.
The same with the Drama CD too. Really thank you very much!
Also, has everyone read the 「afterword of afterword」 too?
In Overlap-sama's homepage, if you click at the referral part of Arifureta 7 and Arifureta Zero,
You will be sent to the exclusive page of each volume, there is「Reader Questionnare」 there.
If you fill the queastionnaire, you will be able to read a bit of short story.
The seventh volume is a short story regarding「Myuu at that time」, while Zero is regarding「That girl of the restaurant at that time」.
If you like please read!
About the greeting for this year, I will say it once more in tomorrow's activity report but,
Let me say brief words as afterword.
Everyone, the people of Narou, thank you very much for having fun together with me this whole year!
Best regards for next year too!
The comic version and Nichijou version were updated in Gardo!
Hauria lol Or rather, Karm turn into something amazing.
Myuu appeared in Nichijou! Myuu's「desuu」 hit's the bull's eye in Shirakome lol
RoGa-sensei and Mori-sensei too, my greatest gratitude to you.
Everyone too, please go take a look at Gardo at the end of this year by all means.
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