Complicated Motives


 

  「Sora, thank you! Thank you so much!」

 

  3 days ago, after I brought Miroslav back with me from Mount Skim, Larz thanked me repeatedly while his whole face was a mess from feelings of gratitude and relief.

 

  He looked even more worn out than the other day; it showed that he had barely slept since I left to rescue Miroslav.

 

  To him, this time’s incident ended in a repeat of his previous failure――He passed out at the very beginning just like in the battle against the King of Flies.

 

  Not only that, his companion was once again in danger because of how useless he was.
I’m sure he has really been suffering inside.

 

  After he made sure that Miroslav was safe and sound, he was happy to the point that it was like he had forgotten all the ill feelings he had towards me.

 

  In contrast to Larz, Miroslav was very gentle and meek in the way she interacted with him.

 

  The way she held his hands with a red face and tears in her eyes made her look like a young maiden in love no matter how anyone looks at it.

 

  I wonder how many people could guess that she was the one who knocked Larz unconscious on the mountain that night if they saw that scene.

 

  As someone who knows the truth, even I felt somewhat frightened by Miroslav’s acting.

 

  However, it might be possible that her emotions were actually real――I thought that after I was reminded of what happened in the mountains.

 

  After I talked to Miroslav on Mount Skim, I understood everything about what that red-haired magician is thinking.

 

  I have no reason to go against what she wants since I have been wanting more soul suppliers other than Lunamaria.

 

  Especially after I heard that she kept on killing monsters on the dangerous mountain for me.


 

  The only condition――or thing she asked of me was that she wants me to not mess with Larz anymore.

 

    In conclusion, I agreed to it.

 

  That’s because I had no intention to do anything to Larz anymore in the first place.

 

  However, it would be a different story if he starts a fight with me.

 

  Miroslav seemed to understand that as well.
During an internal discussion of their party, Larz decided that he will be leaving Ishka.

 

  “To go back to the basics and start over” was a reason that came out of Larz’s own mouth, but I suspect that Miroslav had something to do with it too.

 

  Speaking of Miroslav, she split off from Larz and joined my clan, the 『Blood Spraying Sword』.

 

  She told Larz that it’s to repay the debt she owes me for saving her life, and Larz seemed to be okay with it too.
Well, rather than being okay with it, it was probably more like he understood that he wasn’t in a position to say no to that.
After all, he firmly believes that he was the one who put Miroslav in danger.

 

  That being said, I still had some concerns.

 

  Miroslav had a burning hostility against me all this time, but for whatever reason, she ended up joining me.

 

    I cannot say for sure that Larz wouldn’t feel suspicious about that.

 

  Even if he doesn’t realize that himself, the people around him――like Iria, the guild master, or the guild’s receptionists could sense it and instill unnecessary things into Larz’s mind.

 

  In that sense, Larz’s decision to return to his home village of Melte would not be good for me.

 

  That’s because the village of Melte is where Iria is.


 

  It wasn’t that long ago that those two split off.
Miroslav wanted to talk Larz into going somewhere else, but Larz told her “As the leader, I want to let her know the full story myself”, so she couldn’t do anything but nod back.

 

  Miroslav apologized to me afterward, but actually, I was happy after I heard that Larz was going there.

 

  Once he meets with Iria again, Iria will probably say something to him and they’ll make up with each other.

 

  In the end, my goal of obtaining Iria might end up really far away, but I could also be getting something else in return.

 

  As to what that is――frankly, that would be Iria’s mom, the village’s priest.

 

  Priest Sarah who I met at the village of Melte left a strong impression in my heart in many ways.

 

  It’s very common for a girl to take over her mother’s job.
If Iria does that, that means the obstacles to recruiting priest Sarah to Ishka will be reduced by one, which would be great news to me.

 

  I wondered if I should be the one to bring that topic up to her as well.

 

  But it’s not like I can just ask priest Sarah to leave the village right away and move to Ishka.
Although I have the achievement of saving the village of Melte from the poison, so it’s not impossible for me to take advantage of that…But it would be so low of me to make her feel like she owes me like that.

 

  I have no intention to tie priest Sarah down with obligations.
I want to do this with mutual consent.

 

  For starters, how about I invite her to my home?

 

  Since she cooked things for Clau Soras before, I should be able to invite her naturally with that excuse.
Of course, I will invite those three children to come too.

 

  Well, since we wouldn’t be able to all fly on Clau Soras at the same time if I were to bring those children along, it would increase the time I’ll need to go back and forth and make it quite hard for me to come up with a plan…but whatever, I intend to take my time to lay the groundwork.

 

◆◆◆

 


  After the incident involving 『Falcon Sword』 settled, what I took care of before anything else was Ciel’s slavery problem.

 

  One day, I paid a visit to the slave merchant Fedor with Ciel and Lunamaria.

 

  「Then I will take their slave collars off.
That’s alright with you right, Sora?」

 

  The slit-eyed slave merchant double-checked with me in one of the rooms inside a building that belonged to the『Union』.

 

  In response, I nodded with certainty.

 

  「Yes, please」

 

  「Understood.
Now then――」

 

  Fedor touched Ciel’s and Lunamaria’s collars while muttering something.

 

  Then, the collars that have no connecting parts to them just simply came off their necks.

 

  Ciel, who was visibly nervous, blinked her eyes in surprise, and Lunamaria touched her throat with her hand like she did not know how to react.

 

  Fedor had a radiant smile on his face as he looked at those two.

 

  「The collars have been removed.
Along with that, their names will be taken out from our union’s list.
Miss Lunamaria, Miss Ciel, congratulations」

 

  In response to Fedor who congratulated them in an exaggerated manner, the two had a speechless expression on their faces as they just nodded slightly.

 

  Well yeah, they can’t just be happy even if they were told “you’re free from slavery” from a slave merchant.
How distasteful that sounds.

 


  As a note, the “their names will be taken out from the union’s list” part that Fedor was talking about is related to the collars――the slave collars that those two have been wearing all this time.

 

  I’ve said before that their slave collars were enchanted by several magic spells.

 

  When Lunamaria became a slave, the reason I made the『Union』 intervene was because I wanted the slave collars.  

 

  In the transaction, the benefit for me was the slave collars.
Then what is the benefit for their side? That is the handling of my slaves after I die.

 

  As to what that means, it means in the case that I die, my remaining slave, Lunamaria, will not be released but she will become the 『Union』’s property.

 

  It’s exactly because of that benefit that they lent me their valuable slave collars.

 

  As to why I’m removing those convenient slave collars, I’ve already said before that it had something to do with Ciel.
I thought that Ciel’s resolve to let me eat her soul was influenced by the fact that she’s my slave, so I could only release her from slavery to see if that’s true.

 

  And regarding Lunamaria, honestly, I’m just releasing her while I’m at it.

 

 However, the fact that Lunamaria became a slave is still a thorn that’s stabbing Larz’s heart.
If I pluck that thorn out at this time, I think it’ll sweep away all his hostility towards me. 

 

  Moreover, when I invite priest Sarah over in the future, if Ciel and Lunamaria have slave collars around their necks, my likability might greatly decrease.

 

  It’s possible that priest Sarah will say something like she won’t join a clan of someone who enslaves others.
I want to avoid that.

 

  I don’t think Lunamaria will rebel against me after all this time, but I thought I could use the chance to eliminate that concern.

 

  After I released those two from slavery, next was the preparations to welcome Claudia.

 

 “Ahh I’m so busy so busy”――When I said that jokingly, Miroslav brought up something interesting.

 

  She told me about how the royal capital’s guild master wants to meet me.

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