What fell with a splash?
Something wasn’t right.
When Maki showed them her karate, the beastfolk became very excited. Many of them wanted to try it as well. But karate wasn’t as simple as it looked.
Besides, she had to move while pretending that someone was there. But Maki was a serious teacher, and the beastkin were attentive students. And so they all enjoyed their time together.
And so even though the gazers started to move frenziedly above them, it was assumed that they had just become excited as they watched. They also didn’t notice that the four-legged monsters had started to move towards the forest. Even the anxiety and anger welling up in her chest was something she dismissed as excitement from doing something that she hadn’t in a very long time.
After some time had passed, the beastkin returned to their tables and the gazers calmed down. Maki drank the last of her ale and then stood up.
“Well, I’m going to go rest now.”
“Maki, thank you for everything. Both yesterday and today. Since you two have brought down the number of monsters considerably, we should be able to manage from tomorrow. And I’m sure we’ll receive reinforcements in no time.”
Leia also nodded gratefully.
While she was tired, it had been an interesting day. But it was definitely a lot, considering Chiharu had just been sick yesterday. Maki thought as she looked up at the night sky. Chiharu was probably already asleep, but she should head back quickly anyway.
This time she entered through the front of the building with a smile, instead of going through the window. Then Maki asked the people at the desk which room she should go to. She was told that their room was on the first floor.
Yesterday, she had accidentally fallen asleep on Chiharu’s bed, but there had actually been two prepared for them. Maki accepted the key and was about to head towards the room but suddenly stopped.
Why had she been given a key? Well, there were two of them. And some inns had keys for every person staying in that room.
Maki turned back to the front desk.
“Um, Chiharu, the other Saintess. She’s already here, right?”
“No. We did hear that two would be staying, but you are the first one we have given a key to.”
“What? She’s not here?”
She said before rushing to the room.
“She must have gone through the window. Yes.”
Maki was so frantic that her hands wouldn’t move properly, but she somehow managed to push the large metal key into the keyhole and push open the door.
She said quietly. But there was no reply. It would be too bad if Chiharu was asleep, but it was so dark in the room that Maki was forced to turn on the light. Then she peered over the partitioning screen.
“Huh? Chiharu isn’t here…”
The bed had been made and there were no signs of it having been used. And when she looked around the room, she couldn’t sense Chiharu’s presence at all.
Her heart began to pound in her chest and she felt as if something was strangling her lungs.
“Sh-she must be in a different building. Yes.”
Their belongings were still in the same corner of the room. But perhaps it had been too much work for her to move it.
“But I still have to make sure. Yes. I won’t be able to sleep soundly until I see Chiharu’s face.”
Maki muttered to herself as she left the room.
“Um, I can’t find my partner. Is there another inn?”
“There is, but it’s a rough place for Adventurers. I don’t think that a normal lady would stay there.”
“Uh…but can you tell me where it is?”
“It’s in the back. But there will be many drunkards at this time of night. I can’t recommend that you go. If you are worried, perhaps you should tell Miss Leia first.”
The staff advised her kindly.
“Yes. That’s right. It will be better to ask her than panic by myself. Thank you!”
“But it’s very late. You should hurry up so you can rest.”
And with those warm words, Maki ran out of the inn. The gathering was just over there. She could see Leia and Zynis talking happily.
“Oh, Maki? What is it?”
“Chiharu. She’s not in her room.”
“What? You should have the same room as yesterday.”
Leia said with suspicion. But Zynis put out a hand in front of Leia.
She asked. But Zynis turned to Maki.
“Maki. What about your belongings?”
“It’s still there. Even if she got her room wrong, surely she would have taken her stuff?”
“Hmm. So something must be wrong?”
Immediately, a wave of anxiety rushed over her.
“Wh-what should I do…”
Zynis stood up and embraced Maki, who was starting to shake.
“Maki. Calm down.”
“It might be nothing. I know you two are close. Do you have some kind of special connection as Saintesses?”
“No…nothing like that.”
Maki suddenly remembered something.
“Through the gazers! If Chiharu is connected to the gazers!”
Yes, now that she thought about it, the gazers had been acting strangely! Maki was angry at herself for not realizing it sooner. However, she would do what she could now.
She made a fist and pressed it tightly to her chest. Gazers. Gazers.
What is it? She felt the emotions of the gazers. They did not seem anxious at all.
What should she ask them? They didn’t understand vague questions.
“Do you know where Chiharu is?”
She asked bluntly. The gazers above looked restless.
Some of us followed her…but we’re not fast enough. Some of them have tired and fallen down.
“Fallen? What do you mean?”
And then Maki could see it. Gazers that were chasing something at top speed. They were not able to maintain their shape, and they turned into magic stones as they fell.
A lake? Sea?
“The sea…don’t tell me…”
As Maki seemed to mutter to herself, Zynis and Leia watched. They wanted to say something but couldn’t.
It was the view from several gazers. Maki felt dizzy as she watched. However, the shadow that was likely Chiharu was only getting farther away.
In that case, she needed to ask a different question.
“Tell me about what happened after Chiharu left the bonfires.”
She could feel them thinking hard. Something approached Chiharu, wrapped around her, took her away.
“Wait, wait. She was kidnapped again?”
“Leia, don’t bother her.”
They moved, stopped and flew up again.
“The birdfolk…don’t tell me!”
“Wait. Another question… Uh, what did Chiharu say?”
Maki was already shaking, but she tried her hardest.
“She was surprised. And then she said Maki…help…”
Tears fell from her eyes, but she had to hear the rest.
“They say that she was wrapped up in cloth and couldn’t see. However, she was being carried. The person had whispered to her. Saying she will be freed.”
You can do it. Hold yourself together Maki. Be strong.
Maki cut off the connection to the gazers and planted her feet firmly in the ground.
“Chiharu was wrapped up in something and put in a box of some kind as she was abducted. The gazers sensed the sounds of wings. And they flew over some water, but they gazers don’t know where.”
“The birdfolk? The birdfolk took her! Bring Mira and Sauro here!”
Zynis shouted. Was it really the birdfolk? But they had said something about freedom. Wasn’t that what Sauro always talked about? Maki shook her head. It wasn’t about who was right or wrong. She couldn’t blame herself right now.
Right now, they needed to search for Chiharu. She couldn’t forget what was important. Maki looked at the birdfolk rushing towards her with a desperate expression.