43 – Disappearance and Past
When I arrived at the Count’s mansion, I was greeted by Mr. Grafios, Mr. Sylt and a familiar woman.
If I was not wrong, it was the other person who was commenting on the games during the tournament.
“Ah, you came.”
“I’m sorry for being late.”
“Don’t worry about it. To be honest, it’s only now that information is starting to come together.”
“Don’t worry? Says the one who made him drink so much.”
The woman interrupted with narrowed eyes.
She had a whip and short sword. Judging from her appearance, she was clearly a fighter. Her fiery red hair was tied up in the back, and though her clothes had a bold, plunging neckline, the overall effect was quite elegant.
Was she also a Hunter?
After noticing me, she extended her hand.
“I’ll introduce myself, anyway. A-Rank Hunter, Emily Stealanor.”
“Ah, nice to meet you. Yukito.”
“But we’ve already met. I was at the tavern last night.”
Huh? Really? I didn’t remember that at all.
“Yes, you became acquainted quite well. I think you even had your face in her chest at one point.”
Seriously!? Why don’t I remember that?
…Nevermind. This was no time to be talking about such things.
“Uh…what’s the situation…?”
“Oh. Well…to put it simply, we have a small grasp on her actions after she disappeared. It seemed that she headed to the northern district. So we know she hasn’t left the city.”
“North? Isn’t the north…”
“Yes. Towards the underworld.”
Ms. Iria was very skilled. And so I wanted to believe that she was fine…
“No, she hasn’t entered the underworld.”
Why was he so sure?
I tilted my head at Mr. Grafios’s words.
“No other place is as closely watched by the police. They monitor everyone who goes in or comes out, in fact.”
“Is that so!?”
“There are hundreds of security cameras, so they would know. However, there are no traces of her going in. And so I’m quite sure that she has not gone there.”
I see. So she was somewhere between the bus stop and the underworld…
“The police are currently doing their best to look for her. As the Count’s daughter, it’s possible that she was abducted. And so they will not slack off. The problem is…”
“Why we can’t connect to her mobile…?”
“Exctly. Considering the Ether network, it’s unthinkable that she would be out of range while still in the city.
That alone made me think of the worst scenario.
“…Still, after hearing more about it…I can’t help but think that it’s likely that she has turned off her mobile deliberately.”
“What do you mean?”
“Just a hunch. And the Count seems to also think it is more likely than an abduction. I suppose he has an idea as to why Lady Iria would chase after that man.”
However, the Count would not elaborate on this reason.
Mr. Grafios scowled and bit his thumbnail.
“And yet…I have a feeling that things will get even worse if we don’t know who this guy is.”
I agreed with that.
If she turned off her mobile herself, that meant that Ms. Iria had disappeared of her own free will.
Now only that, but on the day of the tournament. She had abandoned something that she had been so involved with.
“However, it is also possible that she really was abducted. And so we’re going to go out and search again. As for you…”
“…I will go and speak to the Count.”
“To ask him? Well, I suppose you are the closest to him.”
They were going to go back out into the city to search for her.
As for me, I would have liked to join them and chase after Ms. Iria. However, the old city was too vast to search without more leads.
And so I bowed to Mr. Grafios and the others and stepped foot into the mansion.
And then a thought suddenly hit me.
Ms. Iria’s past. What I had been careful to avoid.
I had felt that there must be something to it.
Perhaps if I had made an attempt to make her talk about it… Things would have been different.
The butler guided me through the house and straight to the Count’s study.
In the familiar room, the count stood by the window, where he looked vacantly at the garden.
“Mr. Yukito has arrived.”
“Lord Count. I’m terribly sorry for being late.”
“…No. No one could have predicted that this would happen. I have no intention of blaming you.”
There was none of the usual intensity in his voice.
If only I had known… But no matter how much I regretted it, there was no turning back time. And so I bowed my head once more.
“I will join the search for Ms. Iria. But…I need information about this stranger…”
With his back still facing me, the Count closed his eyes and then turned around.
His expression was of weariness that could not be hidden.
“The past is… No matter how much is forgotten, or how hard you try to forget, it will always appear in front of you one day. Perhaps that is just how it is.”
“…The past you wish to forget?”
With a tired smile, the words began to flow out of the Count’s mouth.
About their past.
Long ago, in the Orlando household…there had been one other family member.