“Do you think this is called being good?”
You make sure I eat well, buy me desserts, buy me clothes, and take care of me when I’m sick.
You’re being good! Extremely good!”
The Big Bear released his hug and looked at me.
His mouth was smiling but he looked sorry.
The Big Bear whispered affectionately.
“Because we like you.”
“We’re being nice because we like you.
You like us, right?”
I looked down as I felt my face burning.
But still, I nodded.
“If you like someone, it’s only natural that you care for them with all your heart.
I’ll be nice to you even once we get to the Duke’s Territory.
I will assure you that you can live a happy ever after.
This is also a promise in my name.”
The Big Bear bowed his head and pressed his lips against my forehead.
His touch was as warm as always.
It was as if he was sealing the promise firmly.
Once again, the warm emotions bubbled up inside me.
My throat clogged and my eyes turned red.
Tears were about to spring up and flow down my cheeks but I stubbornly held them in.
The Big Bear wouldn’t want me to cry.
He would want me to smile.
I swallowed my breath and smiled brightly.
The Big Bear smiled a little wider as if he were happy and took off one of the rings on his left hand.
“There will be a lot of monsters on the way forward.
It can be dangerous, so keep this on.
It’s a defensive artifact.”
“It’s not alright.
We’ll be avoiding the monsters as much as we can, but we have to prepare just in case.
Here, give me your hand.”
“My hands will end up falling asleep because of that.
I’ll be uncomfortable.”
“It adjusts to suit the wearer.
It’ll be okay.”
I really didn’t need it, but I couldn’t resist anymore.
‘Like the secret bear, I’ll return it to them later.’
The Big Bear put the ring on my right middle finger.
The ring, which was too big and too loose, shrunk as soon as the Big Bear injected mana into it.
Compared to when it was on Big Bear’s finger it was only a quarter of the size.
“…You’re so small.”
“You’ll end up sick at this rate.”
“In this state, you might not grow anymore.”
After adding a short sigh at the end of the ramblings, the Big Bear gathered a coat, hand gloves, and scarf from his subspace.
It wasn’t anything I had worn before.
They were all new, thick, and more luxurious.
“Did you buy new ones?”
They told me it’s warmer.
You have to be careful not to catch a cold.”
Something in me once again burned up at the thought of them buying something, especially for me.
The Big Bear helped me put it all on.
“Okay, let’s put on this hat too.”
The hat he took out this time was dark brown, but it looked incredibly warm because it was designed to cover even the ears.
It also had two ears popping up overhead.
“Woah~ It kind of looks like a bear?”
The Big Bear put the hat over my head.
The fur material was soft and my ears were fully covered, so it was without a doubt incredibly warm.
The Big Bear suddenly spoke as he covered my head.
The hair and hat look good on you.
You look just like a cute little bear.”
Speaking of bears, I suddenly thought of Little Bear.
“When is Juliano coming back?”
Before I could finish my sentence there was a knock on the door and Little Bear came in.
As soon as the Little Bear saw me, he came running with his eyes wide open.
“Woah~! So cute! Dad, did you buy this hat from Tagus? Do you have any other kinds? I think a cat one would be cute.”
“There are no other kinds.”
“What a shame.”
The Little Bear sighed deeply.
“I bought pudding.
Dia, are you still full? I’ll give it to you later.
Dad, let’s leave now.”
“I’ll hold Dia.
Today is Father’s turn to drive the carriage.”
– Juliano switches between Father and Dad a lot]
“I’ll hold her until we get to the carriage.”
The Big Bear then scooped me up in his arms preciously and walked to the carriage.
I could see the loss in Big Bear’s face when he had to leave me inside the carriage.
The Big Bear and Little Bear were truly so good.
“What should I talk about today?”
The Little Bear spoke to me affectionately.
“Any story is fine.”
The Little Bear told me this and that.
All of which were things I was curious about.
“It’s cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
But can I really stay at the Duke’s Castle?”
Of course, you can.
My mother will allow it.
Dia, don’t be too worried.
Mother will definitely like you and be nice to you.
But… you shouldn’t like her more than me.
The Little Bear was speaking very seriously.
I tried to pretend not to notice, but the Little Bear persistently asked for an answer with his eyes.
I repressed my laughter as I replied.
The Little Bear laughed at last.
I laughed too, but I was actually really worried inside.
‘What if the Duke doesn’t like me?’
The Little Bear said she’d like me, but I couldn’t be so sure.
‘If she doesn’t like me… Should I try and make it so she does?’
So far, I had never before acted with the intention of making someone else like me.
‘No, there’s the Cardinal.’
In my early days as a warrior, I wanted to look good in front of the Cardinal.
I wanted to be recognized.
I wanted to be loved.
But the wish slowly grew covered in dust as I endured being whipped every night.
The more I got hit, the less I looked like myself.
“Dia, what’s wrong with your face.”
The Little Bear brushed my hair.
“Are you feeling sick?”
I looked to the window, trying to distract myself from the memory of the sharp pain slashing down my back.
However, the curtains were closed to prevent curious eyes from looking.
Thanks to the lighting stone embedded in the ceiling, the interior was bright as day, but it was frustrating because the curtains were thick and tightly closed.
The Little Bear seemed to be aware of why I did such a thing.
“It’s frustrating, isn’t it? Hang in there just a little longer.”
“When did you say we would arrive?”
I asked again knowingly.
Dinner will be served at the Duke’s Castle.
Have you tried the meat of the honey pigs? It’s a specialty of our territory.”
“Honey pigs? What’s that?”
“Honey pigs are pigs that have honey-colored coats, unlike the usual brown.
Their meat is much softer and more delicious than regular pigs.
They call it the people’s favorite meat.”
The Little Bear told me all about the various dishes they harbored.
I was gulping in anticipation when I realized.
‘He’s telling me this because he knows I’m stressed.’
The Little Bear was very considerate.
‘Is this what having a brother is like?’
I didn’t know because I had no family.
But suddenly a thought came to my head.
Even if I did have a real brother, he probably wouldn’t be as nice as Little Bear.
Then suddenly, the carriage stopped.
The Big Bear opened the door of the carriage and appeared.
“It looks like the third guard post is under the attack of the monsters.
Juliano, use detection magic.”
Right now I can detect about 50 sixth-class monsters.”
“I’ll go first and help just in case.
Juliano, you’re in charge of driving the carriage.
Don’t reveal your identity for now.
Dia, you stay in the carriage.
I’ll meet up with you at the third post.”
The Big Bear smiled at me before disappearing right away.
I was a little disappointed.
“I want to go with him.”
“It’s faster for Father to use flight magic alone.”
But… why are they being attacked by monsters? I thought monsters wouldn’t be able to approach due to the Lord’s Blessing.”
“The guard posts are outside of the blessed territory.
They are facilities established in order to reduce the number of monsters lingering around and protect the people visiting the territory.”
“I’ll go now.
Stay inside until I tell you to come out.
The Little Bear patted my head, closed the door, and went out.
I was a little nervous but also excited to enter the Leocardia Territory.
I was also worried about Big Bear.
‘50 is a lot.
But it should be okay, as they’re just sixth-class monsters.
Ugh… I want to use detection magic.’
I was curious about the situation but Big Bear’s request to not use magic was stuck in my head.
I couldn’t just ignore it because it was said out of genuine concern.
‘We’re almost there but the carriage is going steady.
I don’t think it’s a dangerous situation…’
But it was still too early to be relieved.
Shivers suddenly went straight down my spine.
It was my instinct as a warrior.
It was the warning of a crisis.
I immediately cast a spell for detection magic, spreading the mana all over my body.
Soon after, something pressed on the carriage.
Half its body was of an old woman, and the other half was of a monster in the shape of a bird.
The Harpy was pressing the carriage with its body, ramming his sharp fingers and claws on the roof.
It wanted to break the carriage.
‘I’m the target.’
Harpies were very fond of children.
As prey, of course.
It seemed to be able to detect where I was and the carriage was shaken significantly.
Still, it did not break.
‘The Big Bear did a great job casting this defense magic.’
It was before I could do anything that-
The Little Bear that was driving the horse in the front seat, suddenly changed his movements.
Before the Harpy could attack any further, he jumped from his seat and cut off the Harpy’s neck with a double-handed sword taken from his subspace.
After kicking the Harpy’s body away, he immediately went back to driving the horse.
The horse seemed surprised and agitated by the Harpy’s appearance, but when the Little Bear grabbed the reins right away, it slowly moved forward without any sign of agitation.
I could see it all happen through the Detection Magic.
“Dia, are you okay?”
I thought it would be small because it was called a guard post, but it wasn’t.
It was already quite large just looking at the outer walls of the first floor, which were piled up around it like a fence.
In the center stood a large fortress enough to accommodate about 500 people.
At first glance, it looked like a cylinder, but sharp windows stretched out countless times around it like a hedgehog’s thorns.
If monsters rushed to try and break down the fortress their whole bodies would be torn up until they collapsed.
Many defensive spells were also permanently cast.
‘Amazing! But why is everything so dark nowadays? Oh, that’s Black Brick!’
It harbored great defensive prowess, but with its quality came a high price.
‘How great that they use it for whole buildings nowadays! But even more, this is just the third guard post, not the first!’
The more I looked at it, the more I admired it, and the more I liked the Duke of Leocardia.
I found out when I went around to exterminate monsters in my past life that even rich people would rarely spend money on such facilities.
They usually didn’t care if their people died or not.
‘The Duke is different.’
It was very difficult to deal with 50 high-grade monsters in the sixth class.
Perhaps because of that, several of the soldiers and magicians were injured.
However, there were no fatalities or serious injuries.
They were all well-armed and well-trained.
‘The Duke is amazing.’
I hadn’t even met her yet, but her favorability rating had already soared way up.
‘Where’s the Big Bear?’
He was stronger than me so I couldn’t find him even if I used detection magic.
Still, I continued to use it.
I could feel five people riding out of the third post and running towards the Little Bear’s carriage.
The first person asked loudly.
“This is Chamon Tant, deputy director of the third guard post of the Duchy of Leocardia.
Are you alright?”
It was as if they came running after seeing us being attacked by the Harpy.
Still, I didn’t think I should open my window yet, so I clung to the window of the carriage and simply listened.
I heard Little Bear reply.
“The carriage has been attacked.
Do you want to be repaired?”
‘The Little Bear is using illusion magic so the other person couldn’t have possibly known who he is, yet he still held a good attitude.’
It meant that the people at the third guard post were well disciplined.
“Yes, I’d like to have it repaired.”
“Let’s go inside the guard post for now.
We’ll escort you.”
Tant’s party surrounded us in three directions, on either side of the carriage, and behind us.
Entering the outer wall of the third guardpost, the carriage slowed down and stopped completely.
“I’ll take you to the lounge while it’s being repaired.
Is there a companion in the carriage?”
“Yes, there’s one.”
“Can you give me your identification card, along with your party member’s?”
“My party member is only five years old, they don’t have an identification card yet.
I’ll give you mine.”
The Little Bear gave Tant his identification card.
It must have been a fake appropriate with their disguise.
“So you were an attendant of the Duke.
“Another fellow attendant went here first.
Is he here?”
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