Where Chiharu Went
“What is it, Maki? Why are you shaking so much?”
The birdfolk rushed to her. But it was Sauro and not Miragaia who first noticed that Maki was acting differently. And she looked so pale.
“So you hawks are here too.”
“What’s happening this late into the night?”
The leader of the brown feathers was clearly annoyed by Zynis’s words, but they had gathered together and come quickly.
“Chiharu is missing.”
Sauro’s outburst would normally have been very funny. However, it was now a very serious reality.
“You wouldn’t have called all of us if she had just gone missing for a short while. Maki and Zynis. What happened?”
Surprisingly, it was Miragaia who calmly understood the situation.
“First, as for how we know she is gone. Chiharu was supposed to have retired to the inn early tonight, as she had a fever just last night. And as you all saw, when Maki returned to the inn after showing off her karate, she found out that Chiharu had never come to the inn. And there were no signs of her having moved her belongings. That is the reality. Next, I’m sure that you’re all aware that a Saintess can communicate with the gazers. So this information is from them. Maki.”
Zynis first explained the current situation to them, and then allowed Maki to take it from there. Maki told herself to calm down and then explained everything in order.
“From what the gazers told me, Chiharu was suddenly wrapped up in something like a blanket, and was put in a basket. And it seems like she’s being carried over water.”
“Over water… Like a boat?”
Miragaia asked, but Maki shook her head.
“No. They heard the beating of wings, so they must be in the air.”
“Ridiculous. You’re making it sound like the birdfolk are the culprits.”
Miragaia quieted the representative of the brown wings. Then he looked towards Sauro.
“I know. I’ll check the box we used to carry them, and find out where Ramo and Moa are.”
“Wait! Ramo and Moa!”
Sonid was both shocked and angry when the names of his two children came up. However, Sauro and Saikania ignored him as they flew off.
“Sonid, if you cause a scene, we will have to restrain you. It doesn’t matter if you are a representative. If you have nothing to hide, then be quiet and wait.”
Judging by the situation, it was true that those four were the most suspicious. After all, they had watched the Saintesses bathing and then escaped their punishment.
Saikania was the first to return.
“The basket is gone.”
She said. While her expressions were difficult to read, it was clear that she was frantic. After some time, Sauro returned as well. Several of the other birdfolk were with him.
“Ramo, Moa and even Alectro and Erulian are missing. These are the people who were supposed to be watching them. I brought them here for questioning.”
The birdfolk looked like they had no idea why they were there.
“Where did Ramo and Moa go?”
“They’re always being punished, and keep quiet anyway. But now that I think about it, they did go out during the evening and have yet to return.”
They were talking like they didn’t understand why they were being asked such an obvious question. The others were stunned. Maki couldn’t help but open her mouth.
“Then there’s no point in you monitoring them.”
“But we did watch them. Though, we were originally doing a different job, and were asked to step in because there was no one to do the monitoring. And while we did keep an eye on them, it isn’t our job to stop them if they try to leave. Besides, Ramo and Moa are always like that.”
“So that’s the way of the brown wings.”
Miragaia muttered, and Sonid averted his eyes. Miragaia glared at him and continued.
“Sonid. Right now, we will prioritise the search for Chiharu. You must gather together Ramo and Moa’s followers. It’s not like we know they are the culprits, but I want to know why Chiharu was taken, and where. Maki.”
“Can you tell where Chiharu is now?”
Maki looked at the ground. She did not.
“Gazers aren’t very fast. Some of them followed her, but they became exhausted. It was impressive that they were able to keep up at all. But I don’t know how Chiharu is now.”
“I see. Maki, I want you to rest for tomorrow. I just hope that this ‘water’ doesn’t mean the sea.”
Maki knew that there was no chance of her getting rest when she was this worried. However, Ortha, who had watched the whole thing with a worried expression, stayed with her the whole night. And since Maki was already tired, she was finally able to fall asleep.
The next day, Miragaia’s ominous words became a reality.
After hearing of the incident, other birdfolk outside of Ramo and Mora’s entourage gathered together, and it did not take long for them to guess as to where Chiharu had been taken. But upon hearing it, many did not think it particularly strange. Of course, Sauro and Saikania were not among them.
Sauro was usually even more composed than Saikania, and it was rare for him to mutter something with such a stunned expression.
“Why are you surprised, Sauro? It’s because of you.”
The young birdfolk said with bewildered expressions.
“You’re the one who said that the human territories were so great? We brown wings can’t fly as long as you. And so while we are very curious, we assumed that we couldn’t cross the sea. But thanks to you, Sauro, we realized that we could rest our wings on the merfolk island. And so Ramo and Moa tried it and it was quite easy. If anything, we younger birdfolk probably don’t even need to rest at all.”
They said proudly.
“So that’s what you’ve been doing when we were out on a mission.”
“You white wings wouldn’t understand, since you were always able to travel long distances. In fact, the white wings weren’t remotely impressed that it took us this long to do it.”
The young brown feathers said with a shrug in reply to Sauro.
“It is a good thing that your horizons have been widened. It is good that you can travel more. As a brown wing myself, I enjoyed working in the human territories. However, there is a limit!”
It was Cleo, who was also a brown wing, that was angry. Cleo and Kaela were the birdfolk who had helped in the inland merfolk rescue mission. While they were full of curiosity, Maki had no memory at all of them ever slacking on the job. That was why she hadn’t felt cautious when dealing with the brown birdfolk.
“So, they went to the royal capital inland, and out of curiosity, became friendly with the royals there.”
“I don’t know if they were actually royals. But in spite of hearing that the inland people were prejudiced against beastfolk, they were very kind. And they were especially well received at the castle.”
Maki, Zynis and Miragaia looked at them with unbelieving expressions.
“Ridiculous. Have you forgotten that there is an economic blockade due to their insolence against the Saintesses?”
“What does that have to do with us? You want us to be enemies with people who are nice to us?”
“Of course, there is no need to be enemies. However, it’s true that they have a tendency to look down on us beastkin. Aren’t you even a little suspicious about their intentions?”
“It’s only you important people who think like that. We just did as Sauro said and traveled as civilians and made friends.”
Sauro looked up at the sky. The birdfolk were free. He had not realized how immature they were to visit other countries while not understanding the people there. At the very least, the representatives of the brown wings should have been given the experience of going to the castles of other countries beforehand.